DBS for Stroke: Helping Survivors to Move Again


CLEVELAND, Ohio (Ivanhoe Newswire) – Every year, almost 800,000 people in the U.S. suffer a stroke – that comes out to about every 40 seconds, someone’s life is changed. It’s the leading cause of serious long-term disability. Although recovery can take a lifetime, patients seem to see the most improvement within the first year. But now, for the first time in humans, a groundbreaking procedure is helping to bring back movement years after patients suffer a stroke.

Stan Shipkosky’s life revolves around music. Singer and guitarist in the Burnt River Band, he traveled around the country doing what he loved, until he had a stroke six years ago.

“I asked the doctor if I died. He goes, ‘No.’ He says, ‘You’re okay. You had a real bad stroke.’,” Shipkosky recalls.

Left leg, left arm, left hand – nothing worked. He lived with limited mobility for years until Stan became part of the nation’s first human clinical trial testing deep brain stimulation – or DBS – for stroke recovery. DBS has already been used to stop tremors in Parkinson’s patients, but this is modified – not to stop movement, but to start it.

“In Parkinson’s disease, typically, we go from the top of the brain. For a stroke, the work was done, actually, from the back of the brain, in a part of the brain called the cerebellum,” explains Chairman neurosurgeon at Neurological Institute of the Cleveland Clinic, Andre Machado, MD, PhD.

(Read Full Interview)

The electrodes are connected to a pace-maker device and deliver small electrical pulses to the brain. In the study, patients received DBS for up to eight months.

Dr. Machado further explains, “We saw significant benefits between four to eight months after turning on the DBS; they continue to improve.”

After turning off the DBS, whatever they gained remained.

Shipkosky hopes that DBS will be available again soon, so he can get back more of what he lost.

While the procedure offers potential benefits, it also comes with risks, including hemorrhage, infection and neurological complications. The researchers are now enrolling for a larger randomized control trial at the Cleveland Clinic hoping to prove the benefits of DBS in stroke patients.

Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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REPORT:       MB #5276

BACKGROUND: Strokes happen when blood can’t get to the brain due to a blockage. According to the CDC, every 40 seconds, someone has a stroke in the U.S., and every three minutes, someone dies from a stroke. Effects after a stroke can vary depending on how long the brain was deprived of blood flow and the location in the brain the stroke occurred. If the stroke happened on the left side of the brain, effects can include paralysis on the right side of your body, speech or language problems, and memory loss. If it occurs on the right side, you could end up with paralysis on the left side of the body, vision problems, and also memory loss.

(Sources: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/stroke/symptoms-causes/syc-20350113



DIAGNOSING: Some symptoms of a stroke include, but aren’t limited to: trouble speaking, numbness in the face, arm or leg, vision problems, headaches, and/or trouble walking. Doctors suggest acting FAST in the event of a stroke. FAST stands for face drooping, arm weakness, speech problems, and time to call 911. Strokes can be diagnosed with a physical exam, blood tests, a CT scan, MRI, carotid ultrasound, cerebral angiogram, or an echocardiogram.

(Sources: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/stroke/symptoms-causes/syc-20350113


NEW TECHNOLOGY: New treatment for paralysis caused by a stroke is deep brain stimulation, or DBS. DBS is already FDA-approved for Parkinson’s patients – it stops movement, but DBS could jumpstart movement for stroke patients with paralysis. Chair of Cleveland Clinic’s Neurological Institute, Dr. Andre Machado says, “These are reassuring for patients as the participants in the study had been disabled for more than a year and, in some cases, three years after stroke. This gives us a potential opportunity for much needed improvements in rehabilitation in the chronic phases of stroke recovery.”

(Source: https://newsroom.clevelandclinic.org/2023/08/14/cleveland-clinic-study-shows-deep-brain-stimulation-encouraging-for-stroke-patients/)


Halle Bishop Weston


If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com

Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Dr. Andre Machado, Chairman Neurosurgeon

Read the entire Q&A