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Deep Brain Stimulation Linked to Drowning Risk

June 14, 2016 — Health officials are warning about a possible risk of drowning and loss of muscle coordination from deep brain stimulation devices.

The Journal of Neurosurgery published a case report of a patient in Australia with Parkinson’s disease who lost coordination in the water and was unable to swim, despite being an experienced swimmer.

After the patient turned off the deep brain stimulation device, his coordination improved and he was able to swim. However, the devices have been linked to at least three anecdotal reports of patients drowning, according to Australian health officials.

The Australian Therapeutics Goods Administration (TGA) recommended watching patients closely when they are swimming or doing any potentially hazardous activities requiring muscle coordination.

Medtronic makes a variety of deep brain stimulation devices. They deliver electrical signals to the brain and treat epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, movement disorders, and other neurological syndromes.

Some of the most serious side effects include chronic pain, infection, numbness, bleeding in the brain, heart problems, vision problems, headaches, seizures, shocks, and more.

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