Brain surgery changed Norwich man's life

Dan GrimmerA city man suffering with Parkinson's Disease said his life had been transformed since he underwent revolutionary brain surgery.Dan Grimmer

A city man suffering with Parkinson's Disease said his life had been transformed since he underwent revolutionary brain surgery.

Grandfather-of-two Colin Horobin was diagnosed with the debilitating condition 11 years ago and was taking medication before he had deep brain stimulation surgery last year.

The 73-year-old suffered involuntary tremors and medication alone was not effective. He was forced to give up golf and even driving because he totally lost his confidence.

New research appeared yesterday in the Lancet Neurology showing how the treatment greatly improves a patient's quality of life.

The findings come from a 10-year-trial, co-funded by Parkinson's UK, the Medical Research Council and the Department of Health , which was co-ordinated by the Birmingham Clinical Trials Unit at the University of Birmingham . It is the largest trial of its kind in the world.

Mr Horobin, who lives at Lincoln Street, Norwich with his wife Patricia had the surgery last July. He said: 'It has made such a massive difference to my life.

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'I was suffering from involuntarily movements and tremors bought on by the condition,' he said. 'The surgery has pretty much cured that which is amazing.

'I lost a lot of confidence with Parkinson's Disease.

'I used to play golf and drive quite a lot but I stopped doing that. Now I am back to doing both, I have to do it all slowly of course but I have got my confidence back.

'It has made such a big difference to my life and I feel very privileged to have taken part in this.'

While medical experts support the research, many are warning that the surgery is not suitable for all patients with the illness.

Dr Paul Worth, a consultant neurologist at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and an honorary senior lecturer, has carried out the treatment on about 10 patients in the past year.

'I fully support the treatment because it can make a big difference to some one's life,' he said. 'But it can only be used on up to 2pc of the population with the disease.

'It is not suitable for everyone and there are is a lot of criteria that needs to be met. But if a patient meets these and can have the treatment it is really effective.'

Researchers examined the effects of deep brain stimulation on the lives of people with advanced Parkinson's disease using a randomized trial.

Of 366 patients, they asked half to take the standard Parkinson's drug treatments, and the other half to take the medications as well as undergo deep brain stimulation.

Research showed that patients fitted with a neurostimulator - a device similar to a heart pacemaker which stimulates some areas of the brain and blocks abnormal nerve signals - were more likely to improve than those who were given the most appropriate drugs available.