Much like Kirk Gibson, Detroit Tiger's 1988 National League MVP, Clarita was an active and healthy person when she was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. Clarita Beslack, 62, of Apopka, was always on the go. The former software program analyst, as well as wife, mother and grandmother, was 57 when she first noticed her hands twitch.
I started shaking and couldn't walk straight, says Clarita. When her handwriting declined, she knew something was wrong.
A Devastating Diagnosis
In 2008, a doctor in Michigan (where she and her husband, Robert, lived at the time) diagnosed Parkinson's disease, and she immediately began medication. Initially it helped, but the benefits soon wore off .
I was devastated, she remembers. I exercised all the time and looked forward to being a healthy older person.
Clarita's condition worsened, despite trying several medications. When she and Robert moved to Apopka in 2009 to be near their children, she sought out Nizam Razack, MD, neurosurgeon at AdventHealth Celebration. Dr. Razack suggested Clarita consider deep brain stimulation (DBS).
When DBS Is An Option
While it's not a cure and doesn't stop the disease from progressing, says Dr. Razack, it can significantly improve symptoms, especially tremors, and relieve muscle rigidity.
DBS is used to treat many disabling neurological symptoms such as tremors, rigidity, stiffness, slowed movement and walking problems. It's only used when medications no longer work.
Using a surgically implanted, battery-operated medical device called a neurostimulator similar to a heart pacemaker and the size of a stopwatch DBS delivers electrical stimulation to targeted areas in the brain controlling movement, while blocking abnormal nerve signals causing symptoms.
Clarita underwent DBS for the right side of her brain last June and then a second procedure, using the Mazor Robotics Renaissance Guidance system, for the left side of her brain two months later.
With the Mazor robot, surgeons determine optimal trajectory for implanting electrodes and use a guidance unit to perform precise implantation.
Mazor increases accuracy and adds an extra element of safety for patients undergoing this major operation, says Dr. Razack.
A Large Improvement
Clarita says she's noticed a world of a difference since last summer.
While I still have off days, I move around easier, my speech is better, and my muscles aren't as tight or rigid, she says.
Clarita and Robert plan to celebrate their 40th anniversary traveling. As soon as she's done with physical therapy, we're headed to see friends and relatives in Italy and Spain! adds Robert.