One summer day, while strolling through an art gallery in Cape May, NJ, Steve Zabielski’s mother asked a friend for advice. She knew her friend understood how debilitating Parkinson’s disease could become and was hoping that she could offer some guidance, on answers where there had been few.
An individual, who happened to be a neurologist, overheard them talking and offered to introduce Steve to his practice partner, who specializes in movement disorders.
After going through the standard barrage of tests and an extensive examination, Steve heard the same things he had heard from several specialists over the past few years: “You are in the late stages of Parkinson's and you’ve maxed out your meds.”
Then the neurologist added, “You need to go see Gordon Baltuch.”
When Steve met Gordon Baltuch, MD, Director of the Center for Functional and Restorative Neurosurgery, he remembers a term the physician used almost immediately in their conversation.
|Gordon Baltuch, MD|
“Right from the start, Dr. Baltuch said he was going to implant wire leads into both sides of my brain, which would emit electrical signals on command and stimulate certain areas of my brain so that it would function in ways that it hadn’t functioned in years.” Steve stops to take a breath in wonder even now as he recalls their first conversation. “He said the stimulation would mitigate the major effects of the disease, allowing me to live day to day much more like I had earlier in life.
“He’s describing the procedure, running wires up into my brain and planting small electrode stimulators in my chest, and doing so in a tone that I'd use to describe something I've done a thousand times,” Steve recalls.
“When I say it now, out loud, it still sounds like science fiction to me. But the way Dr. Baltuch explained it was brilliant, and he was so confident, and at the same time so caring, that I made up my mind on the spot: If there’s anyone I trust to go into my brain and do all this, it’s this guy.”
Steve looks down for a moment, shakes his head, and then looks back up.
“I was nearing the end of the road. I had no place else to go. Dr. Baltuch represented hope.”