Electronic brain stimulation relieving Warren man's dystonia

Every minute of every day, 39-year-old Jay Dunn battles with his body. A severe case of the movement disorder dystonia forces his muscles to spasm and twist. But, every visit to his doctor's office brings him new hope. 

Dystonia is triggered by bad signals from the brain. So, doctor's are using deep brain stimulation to stop those bad signals.

"We're in the center of the brain, and there's this small structure called the globus paletas and we're putting electrodes into it," explains Henry Ford neurologist Dr. Neepa Patel. "They are connected to a wire that runs to a battery in his chest that's exactly like a pacemaker."

But -- it's far from a perfect science. About once a month, Jay comes to Henry Ford's Movement Disorder's Center where Dr.  Patel will adjust the stimulation, searching for better results.

For some dystonia patients, deep brain stimulation, or DBS, can cut the symptoms in half. But, for Jay, the results are very subtle. You can see in video we recorded what happens to Jay's body when Dr. Patel shuts down the DBS and triggers the impulses.

"There were times Jay could not walk at all; there were times he could not sit in a chair. In fact, most comfortable for him is on the floor, I think," says Henry Ford Hospital DBS coordinator Julia Wall. "He has improved, and he even said himself that if he only got 10 percent improvement with DBS that he would take it - and he has!"

Dystonia can be inherited or it can be aquired, like in Jay's case. The neck spasms first showed up when he was 6 years old, and it quickly got much worse. But, as evidence by his smile and thumbs up -- his attitude never did.

Jay has been testing DBS for many years and keeps hoping something else will be discovered. You can donate to the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation if you'd like to help fund research for the cure. One hundred percent of the money raised goes to research. You can learn more or make your donation at www.5dollarcure.com