You wouldn’t purchase a million dollar home and let the weeds grow wild.
The same is true for brain surgery. Finding a competent neurosurgeon to perform your Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) surgery is only half the battle. It is equally important to have an experienced DBS programmer, one who is willing to work with you to maximize the benefits and minimize the side effects of DBS.
Although there are no “correct” answers to the following questions and no standard minimum training requirements for DBS programmers, the responses will give you some idea of the experience and training of your prospective programmer.
*Checklist for Interviewing DBS Programmers
What is your level of medical training (e.g., neurologist, nurse, physician assistant)?
When and where were you trained in programming?
How long was your DBS training program?
When and where did you begin programming?
Have you had any additional programming training or attended any optional programming seminars?
What scientific literature do you read on DBS and programming?
How many patients have you programmed?
How many patients are you currently programming?
Do you work under a supervising physician? If so, what is your supervisor's name?
With the understanding that every patient is different, on average, how many times do you see a patient before you feel that his or her programming is complete?
What would you do if you encountered an emergency situation while programming?
What kind of patient do you consider having a complicated programming situation? What have you done when programming such a patient?
What kind of follow-up have you provided to your programming patients, e.g., neurological evaluations, wire and battery checks, etc.?
What is the significance of medication adjustments post DBS?
* Some of the above questions were adapted from the book, Life with a Battery-Operated Brain: A Patient’s Guide to Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery for Parkinson’s Disease by Jackie Hunt Christensen at http://www.lifewithbobbook.com/.
Obviously, someone has to be the first patient to be programmed by a new programmer. It’s up to you to decide if that patient will be you.
Parkinson's and Voice: Whose Patient Are You Anyway?http://voiceaerobicsdvd.blogspot.com/2011/04/parkinsons-and-voice-whose-patient-are.html