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Wollongong Private Hospital offering new hope for Parkinson’s patients

June 06, 2024

Wollongong Private Hospital is offering new hope for local patients with Parkinson’s Disease, introducing an innovative new treatment option, previously not available between Sydney and Melbourne.

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) involves implanting small electrodes in the brain which are controlled by a pacemaker-like device inserted in the chest. The electrodes produce electrical impulses to manage movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, dystonia and tremor.

Neurosurgeon Dr Craig Vonhoff and neurologist Dr Derrick Soh recently completed the first DBS implantation at Wollongong Private Hospital.

“Parkinson’s is a progressive disease. Over time people find medications less effective or suffer increased side-effects from them. DBS allows for a reduced reliance on those medications and an associated reduction in medication-related side effects. DBS can also be adapted as the disease progresses and becomes more severe,” Dr Soh said.

Dr Vonhoff said the provision of a DBS service requires the coordination and collaboration of a variety of health professionals to succeed.

“Wollongong Private Hospital has excellent facilities where we work with a dedicated team within operating theatres, intensive care and on the ward to ensure our patients are comfortable, well cared for and supported throughout their journey,” Dr Vonhoff said.

“Having been trained in large metropolitan hospitals, I am thrilled to be able to offer this treatment locally. Bringing this service to the Illawarra and wider region provides local residents with debilitating health conditions an opportunity to seek surgery and ongoing treatment close to home.”

The first patient to benefit from the new service was 63-year-old Sandra McDonald from Bermagui in NSW who has suffered from Parkinson’s Disease for more than a decade.

“After 10 years of taking medication for Parkinson’s, the drugs were becoming ineffective and causing serious side effects,” Mrs McDonald said.

“We live near Bermagui so it’s an easy 4-hour drive to Wollongong. I’m glad I don’t have to deal with the big city crazy traffic. The hospital in Wollongong is centrally located close to shops and accommodation.”

Wollongong Private Hospital Acting CEO, Malcolm Passmore, said Ramsay Health Care was committed to offering people in regional NSW access to leading private health care options closer to home.

“We’re pleased to offer this new procedure to people in Illawarra and surrounding regions. Wollongong Private Hospital is committed to bringing leading health care options to the region. Patients do not need to travel to capital cities to access excellent care or to be treated by leading specialists.”

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