VIDEO: Four Emiratis undergo UAE's first deep brain stimulation surgeries in Abu Dhabi

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Nevin Al Sukari - Abu Dhabi - The revolutionary surgeries boost hopes of Parkinson's patients.

Gulf Today, Staff Reporter

Four Emirati nationals are looking forward to taking back their lives from Parkinson’s disease after benefiting from the UAE’s first deep brain stimulation operations.

The surgeries, which each lasted between four and eight hours, took place over a period of just four days following comprehensive evaluations to ensure the patients were good candidates for the surgery. Evaluations for deep brain stimulation involve a multidisciplinary team of neurologists, neurosurgeons, physical therapists, speech therapists, and a neuropsychologist in order to cater to each patient’s specific needs.

The complex surgery can significantly reduce the symptoms patients experience, reducing their need for medication and improving their quality of life. The electrodes are controlled by a small device implanted under the patient’s skin.


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"Deep brain stimulation is an intricate procedure that will transform both the lives of patients and the way Parkinson’s disease is treated in the UAE. The level of expertise required to offer this surgery is phenomenal and I am extremely proud of the whole team for coming together to offer these patients a new level of care and a life less reliant on medication and with fewer symptoms,” says Dr. Florian Roser, Chair of the Neurological Institute at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.

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The complex surgery can significantly reduce the symptoms patients experience, reducing their need for medication and improving their quality of life.

During the surgery, neurosurgeons implant electrodes into precise areas of the brain to block rogue signals that cause motor problems such as tremors. These areas are identified in advance using advanced imaging technologies that inform each patient’s unique surgical plan.

"Deep brain stimulation is a particularly complex endeavour that relies on detailed planning and submillimetre precision. Using some of the world's most advanced imaging techniques, our team is able to determine the exact areas of the brain causing a patient’s symptoms. Once identified, the challenge is to place the electrode at those precise points through the brain. Each case is unique and dramatically different to most surgeries,” says Dr. Tanmoy Maiti, the neurosurgeon who performed the surgeries at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.


Mohammed Al Aryani, a 49-year-old Emirati, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2003 at the age of 32. As his symptoms progressed, he shied away from social contact. 'After my surgery, I would like to continue my studies. I cannot wait to be close to my children again and live a normal life,' says Mohammed


Reflecting the close level of collaboration between colleagues, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s deep brain stimulation programme draws on Cleveland Clinic in Ohio’s more than twenty years of experience in the field, performing more than 150 deep brain stimulation surgeries per year. The surgical team received support in the UAE’s first deep brain stimulation surgeries from Dr. Andre Machado who flew to Abu Dhabi from the United States for the surgeries.

"Cleveland Clinic is a global, integrated organisation and all parts are mutually supportive. Our team trained the surgical team at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi and also discussed each patient’s surgical candidacy. It was a great pleasure to be in Abu Dhabi to support the success of the first few surgeries and the Cleveland team will continue to support this very important programme,” says Dr. Andre Machado, Institute Chair, Neurological Institute, Cleveland Clinic.

Young patients

The patients were younger than the average group with Parkinson’s disease, which is most common in people over the age of 60. However, a growing proportion of patients around the world are being diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s disease, interfering with their family, social and work lives.


Rashed Alhebsi, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2015, was excited at the prospect of getting his life back. 'We have the best healthcare technology and skills. I look forward to becoming more active and socialising again,' says Rashed


"Parkinson’s disease can have a tremendous impact on a person both physically and mentally. As their symptoms progress, they can begin to feel isolated and alone, unwilling or unable to live their life as they did before. This is particularly true of early onset Parkinson’s that can affect people in the prime of their lives, depriving them of things many of us take for granted,” says Dr. Shivam Om Mittal, a neurologist specialised in Parkinson’s disease and movement disorders at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.

This was particularly true for Mohammed Al Aryani, a 49-year-old who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2003 at the age of 32. As his symptoms progressed, he shied away from social contact due to the severity of his symptoms and the shame he associated with them.

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The surgery relies on advanced technologies to help doctors map the patient’s brain.

"I left my job, stopped my studies and even stopped leaving home for a long time. I wasn’t able to see my own children because I didn’t want them to see me like this. After my surgery, I would like to continue my studies and get my Bachelor’s degree, to be able to enhance and move ahead with my career. Most importantly, I cannot wait to be close to my children again and live a normal life,” says Mohammed.

Speaking ahead of his surgery, Rashed Alhebsi, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2015, was excited at the prospect of getting his life back.

"I could not move properly or go to work normally. My mental health deteriorated, and I could not socialise anymore. When my doctors told me about deep brain stimulation, I went online and did my research about the procedure, watched videos, and read a lot. I am proud of the UAE leadership and proud to be an Emirati. We have the best healthcare technology and skills. I look forward to becoming more active and socialising again,” says Rashed.

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, an integral part of Mubadala Health, is the only hospital in the UAE equipped with the requisite technology and infrastructural expertise to offer deep brain stimulation to patients as a team. The surgery relies on advanced technologies to help doctors map the patient’s brain and monitor them during surgery and the post-surgical adjustment of the device.The hospital’s Neurological Institute offers a multidisciplinary approach to patients with movement disorders. The team includes neurologists, neurosurgeons, physical therapists, speech therapists, nurses and others in order to cater to each patient’s specific needs. The entire team is permanently based in Abu Dhabi and available for patients at any time before or after surgery.

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