Tourette Syndrome is a disease that cause involuntary motions and sounds, but a breakthrough procedure called Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) is making living with the disease a little easier.
One Houston lacrosse coach can attest to that.
Westside (Houston) girls club lacrosse team coach Jamie Blassingame is living with the disease, as reported by Houston’s KPRC-TV.
Blassingame’s current students did not know until she told them during this KPRC interview.
“It was so severe that I was unable to do certain things like drive,” the 34-year-old Blassingame explained to KPRC.
Blassingame had the DBS operation 10 months ago, per KPRC. While awake, Baylor College of Medicine Dr. Joohi Jimenez-Shahed placed electrodes in her brain and waited for the tics to stop.
“Basically, it functions like a pacemaker,” said Shahed, assistant professor of neurology. “The tip of the wire is placed within that nuclear structure of the deep brain and then we can just influence the electricity that’s coming out of it and create an electrical field that then affects the way the neuron in the surrounding areas respond and fire and send signals to other parts of the brain.”
Doctors tell KPRC the procedure is only for adults who have not responded well to other treatments. In most cases, people are not diagnosed or misdiagnosed until around adulthood.
Unable to control her tics, Blassingame told KPRC she had to hide from places where they would be considered inappropriate, like church. She wasn’t able to drive, either, and was constantly battling exhaustion from trying to control her movement. Before the DBS procedure, she considered taking a leave from work.
“I don’t have any urge to do any of that anymore,” she told KPRC. “There is one, I mean, like right now — I have like an eye blink, but that’s the least of my worries. I’m OK with that.”
Less than a year since the DBS procedure, Blassingame said she’s finally enjoying her life free from the tics associated with Tourette’s.
“I look back then to now and I can’t believe, it’s like a totally different person,” Blassingame said.