“A new lease on life”
Shaking Bill Crawford’s hand, you’d never know he has Parkinson’s, much less that he’s been living with it for more than 15 years. He’s an active, youthful-looking 59-year-old who plays guitar and participates in his church’s music program. He doesn’t have the visible tremors that are a hallmark of the disease.
Bill credits that to two sources: God, and the work of Dr. Craig van Horne at UK HealthCare’s Kentucky Neuroscience Institute. In 2015, Dr. van Horne implanted a nerve from Bill’s ankle into his brain in a groundbreaking new version of an existing Parkinson’s treatment called Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS).
DBS involves implanting electrodes into the brain to help treat the problems associated with Parkinson’s. Dr. van Horne’s new treatment, called DBS Plus, uses the body’s own nerves in combination with electrodes, eliminating concerns about the body rejecting the transplant.
“When Dr. van Horne transplanted a nerve into my brain from my ankle, I believe it made a huge difference. I know that I’m shaking much less when I turn my stimulator off than I was even before,” Bill said.
This new nerve, controlled by an external stimulator, helps override the abnormal electrical impulses caused by the disease, calming the tremors. The experimental new treatment was launched by Dr. van Horne with the support of a pilot grant from the UK Center for Clinical and Transitional Science. The procedure is available only at UK HealthCare.
While there’s currently no cure for Parkinson’s, the results from the treatment show promise—and, in Bill’s case, they’ve been astonishing. Once nearly paralyzed by tremors and weakness, Bill has been able to continue working at his church in his role as a Worship Pastor. He also does pastoral care at local hospitals. He’s gone from taking twelve pills a day before his surgery to none.
“And as a result of Dr. van Horne, and, I believe, God working through his hands, he’s enabled me to walk and keep working and serving the Lord and getting a new lease on life, really.”