Long term perceptions of illness and self after Deep Brain Stimulation in pediatric dystonia: A narrative research

Chiara Scaratti, Giovanna Zorzi, Erika Guastafierro, Matilde Leonardi, Venusia Covelli, Claudia Toppo, Nardo Nardocci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) is increasingly used in pediatric patients affected by isolated dystonia, with excellent results. Despite well documented long-term effects on motor functioning, information on quality of life and social adaptation is almost lacking. Objectives: The present study aims to explore the experience of illness and the relation with the device in adult patients suffering from dystonia who underwent DBS surgery in pediatric age. Methods: A narrative inquiry approach was used to collect patients’ narratives of their experience with dystonia and DBS stimulator. A written interview was administered to 8 patients over 18 years old with generalized isolated dystonia who had undergone pallidal DBS implantation in childhood. A thematic analysis was realized to examine the narratives collected. Results: Five main themes emerged: “relationship with the disease”, “experience related to DBS procedure”, “relationship with one's own body”, “fears”, “thoughts about future”. Despite a general satisfaction in relation to DBS intervention, some patients expressed difficulties, such as the acceptance of changes in one's own body, concerns and fears regarding the device and the future, also considering the critical phase of transition from childhood to adulthood. Conclusions: These results suggest that further research is needed to understand the contribution of psychological, as much as medical, aspects to the overall outcome of the intervention. The present explorative study encourages a deeper investigations of psychological aspects of patients, in order to plan a tailored care path and to decide whether to suggest a psychological support, both before and after the intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-67
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Paediatric Neurology
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


  • Deep brain stimulation
  • Illness narratives
  • Narrative medicine
  • Patients perceptions
  • Pediatric dystonia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Clinical Neurology


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