Lahey Hospital & Medical Center Offers Life-Changing Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery for Patients with Parkinson’s Disease

Free Neurosurgery Movement Disorders Symposium April 20, Open to the Public

Lahey Hospital & Medical Center’s deep brain stimulation surgery (DBS) helps patients who suffer from Parkinson’s disease, dystonia or tremor regain the ability to enjoy their favorite activities again. When DBS surgery is performed, the doctor implants small electrodes into the brain that, once activated, are continuously stimulated to relieve symptoms.

Holderness, N.H. resident Carl Lehner has Parkinson’s and dystonia. An avid hiker, his quality of life was significantly impacted by these diseases, which often inflicted him with tremors and dilapidating food cramps. At one point during his illness, Lehner found it difficult to walk more than 50 yards without experiencing severe leg cramping. The cramping made it nearly impossible to walk forward until he massaged and relieved the tightened muscles; this process could take anywhere from five to 30 minutes.

“I couldn’t walk with someone who was in a hurry. I would have to stop several times, and sometimes the muscles in the foot would not relax,” Lehner said.

For years, Lehner attempted many pharmaceutical treatments but did not receive the results he needed or wanted to live life like he once did. Parkinson’s affected his facial muscles, making it difficult for others to read his expressions. His tremors acted up often, particularly when he felt stressed.

Lehner had DBS surgery—on the right side of his brain to treat the left side of his body—at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center in July 2011, and he almost immediately saw vast results in his ability to move around. He saw a difference with his tremor, caused by Parkinson’s, as well.

“Before the surgery to treat the left side, there were times when the tremor was so bothersome that I would end up taking a nap. It made me so dysfunctional,” Lehner said. “The tremor has been reduced, and the dystonia on the left side has not happened since a month after the surgery, which is pretty remarkable.”

Lehner experienced dramatic improvements in his ability to move—and most importantly to him, hike with his wife. On a trail that he previously had not been able to hike past a mile due to dystonia, Lehner and his wife completed a 4.5 mile hike in 2 hours and 45 minutes. “It was a delightful improvement,” he said.

Lehner, among others, will be a featured speaker at the Neurosurgery Movement Disorders Symposium, which will be held Saturday, April 20, from 9 am to 12 pm, at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center, in the Alumni Auditorium at 41 Mall Road, Burlington, Ma 01805. Lahey Hospital & Medical Center’s Diana Apetauerova, MD, and members of our neurology and neurosurgery movement disorders team are holding the free informational seminar for patients who are considering DBS. Lehner will be sharing his story with attendees at the event.

“I can bring the point of view of somebody who had the surgery and how it has improved their life from what it was before,” Lehner said.

The audience will receive an overview of DBS surgery, the conditions it can treat, and an explanation of the entire surgical process.

“Those who attend this seminar will become more familiar with DBS surgery, which may alleviate the concerns they have regarding the procedure. Patients will know what to expect,” Dr. Apetauerova said.

At the seminar, people considering the procedure will also have the opportunity to meet with patients like Lehner, who have undergone the surgery. Several patients will give presentations about their experience during the symposium.

“I think hearing about the surgery firsthand from someone who has experienced it will help patients to understand the benefits and potential outcomes DBS surgery can provide,” Dr. Apetauerova added.

Drs. Peter Dempsey, Julie Leegwater-Kim and Jay Shils, and Nurse Practitioner Janet Zani of Lahey Hospital & Medical Center’s Neurology and Neurosurgery Departments, will also present at this event.

The DBS symposium is free to attend and open to the public. 


About Lahey Health

Lahey Health is what’s next in healthcare providing a full continuum of integrated health services close to where you live or work. It is comprised of nationally-recognized, award-winning hospitals – including an academic hospital and medical center, and community hospitals -- primary care providers, specialist physicians, behavioral health services, post-acute programs such as home health services, skilled nursing and rehabilitation facilities, and senior care resources located throughout northeastern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire.

Lahey Health offers over a 1,000 locally-based physicians providing clinical excellence and an exceptional patient experience in adult and pediatric primary care and every medical specialty, including kidney and liver transplantation; cancer, cardiovascular and orthopedic medical and surgical care; local emergency and trauma care; urological surgery; chronic disease prevention and health management; and pediatric emergency, newborn and inpatient care provided in collaboration with Boston Children’s Hospital physicians.

Lahey Health includes Lahey Hospital & Medical Center -- a teaching hospital of Tufts University School of Medicine -- and Lahey Clinic physician group with practices in Burlington, Peabody and other locations throughout northeastern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire. Beverly Hospital; Addison Gilbert Hospital in Gloucester, MA; Lahey Health Senior Care and Lahey Health Behavioral Services as well as more than 30 primary care physician practices and multiple outpatient and satellite specialty care facilities.

Together, we are making innovative, integrated healthcare more personal and more accessible. For more information, visit and its member websites Lahey Hospital & Medical Center, Beverly Hospital, and Lahey Health Behavioral Services.