NHL.com: DBS surgery has transformed Peterson's life

Wednesday, 09.19.2012 / 1:15 AM / Features
NHL.com

Almost one year after having deep brain stimulation surgery to ease his Parkinson's disease, those who know Brent Peterson have seen a new man.

"He goes through it like a champ and doesn't have a bad word to say," Predators associate coach Peter Horachek told The Tennessean. "He's a champion from that standpoint."

The DBS surgery, performed in December 2011, saw doctors implant electrodes in Peterson's brain and a pacemaker near his collarbone. The pacemaker is supposed to control the electrodes, which slow the symptoms of his disease. The treatment took nearly a month.

While Peterson jumped on a treadmill at the Predators' practice facility the day after the pacemaker was turned on, amazing his colleagues, it wasn't all perfect. According to The Tennessean, the electrodes caused him to become overly emotional. He said he would cry watching a football team score a touchdown. Or he would laugh at a joke that wasn’t funny. He also went on a spending spree, including buying a $3,000 necklace for his wife, Tami.

"I was crazy," he told the newspaper. "I emptied out our checking account. It was too much energy in my head."

Once the problem was fixed, Peterson was able to resume his duties as a hockey operations adviser -- he watches games with GM David Poile and gives assessments between periods. Peterson also went on scouting trips, including visits to potential playoff opponents ahead of the start of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Peterson said the surgery "unlocked" his body, allowing him to have close to a normal life.

"If I'm unlocked, I can do anything," he said.

There are still reminders of his problem. Peterson needs to take medication daily -- though not as much as before the surgery -- and he struggles with his balance. The 12-year NHL veteran who spent 13 seasons as an assistant coach on Barry Trotz's staff also can't get on the ice and skate due to balance issues. He is able to play golf, but said when he puts a golf tee in the ground, he sometimes feels like he will fall over.

"There's times I think I can get back and play and do the job and go back," Peterson said, "but I can't [because of the balance problem]."

In total, though, Peterson said the last year has been better for him than years past. One of the biggest benefits has been the fact that he's able to sleep six-to-eight hours every night, up from about four hours prior to the surgery.

"You feel 10 times better," Peterson said.

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