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Neža Prezelj, Maja Trošt, Dejan Georgiev and Dušan Flisar

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is an established treatment option for advanced stages of Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders. It is known that DBS is susceptible to strong electromagnetic fields (EMFs) that can be generated by various electrical devices at work, home, and in medical environments. EMFs can interfere with the proper functioning of implantable pulse generators (IPGs). Very strong EMFs can generate induction currents in implanted electrodes and even damage the brain. Manufacturers of DBS devices have issued a list of warnings on how to avoid this danger.

Strong EMFs can result from natural forces as well. The authors present the case of a 66-year-old woman who was being treated with a rechargeable DBS system for neck dystonia when her apartment was struck by lightning. Domestic electronic devices that were operating during the event were burned and destroyed. The woman’s IPG switched off but remained undamaged, and she suffered no neurological consequences.