A Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital physician was the first in the Houston area to use a new remote technology to treat a patient with Parkinson’s disease.


In June, board-certified neurologist Toby Yaltho, M.D., used the Neurosphere Virtual Clinic technology, from Abbott, to adjust a patient’s deep brain stimulation (DBS) device from his office in Sugar Land, while the patient was at home two hours away.


DBS is a proven technology that is used to treat a variety of movement disorders, including essential tremor, Parkinson’s disease, and dystonia. It involves the placement of electrodes within the patient’s brain that produce electrical impulses to regulate abnormal brain activity. The electrodes are connected via wires that attach to a pacemaker-like device that is placed just under the patient’s skin in the chest area.


Regularly adjusting those electrical impulses for maximum benefit can be a time-consuming effort requiring multiple trips to the doctor, which can be a challenge for elderly patients who don’t drive or for those who live far away. With the Neurosphere technology, Yaltho can communicate with his patients via video chat, observe their symptoms, and adjust the DBS device remotely.


“Patients often don’t exhibit the same symptoms in a doctor’s office as they experience at home,” said Yaltho. “So being able to watch them in a setting that is familiar to them – for example, being able to watch their gait as they walk across their living room – is a tremendous benefit. And because I can program their stimulation device remotely, we can improve their symptoms without the need for an office visit and all that entails. That’s a tremendous benefit for patients,”


 “Sometimes a patient will experience something out of the ordinary – such as a fall – and need assurances that their DBS unit is okay and that they don’t need further adjustments to their stimulation programming,” said Yaltho. “Now, I can remotely adjust their device quickly, if needed. That gives patients a comfort level they didn’t have before.”


The Neurosphere system isn’t compatible with all types of deep brain stimulation units, but for those who have the Abbott Infinity device, it can make a significant difference in quality of life. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Yaltho or another neurologist with Houston Methodist Sugar Land Neurology Associates, call 281.274.7595.