Ashley Jones has the perfect gift for her mother for Mother's Day: Hope.
Her mom's health troubles began 30 years ago in junior high school when writing her name became an impossible task due to tremors. Then Vernell Jones couldn't walk. Baffled by her condition, doctors treated her with physical therapy for what they believed was a psychosomatic condition.
Vernell's symptoms worsened with the birth of her daughter, but it wasn't until Ashley was 10 and started experiencing problems with her foot that Vernell's worst fears were realized. Ashley's legs started to give out on her for no apparent reason. Soon, she was forced to crawl while her cousins ran circles around her.
Ashley spent years going from doctor to doctor and was even admitted to a psychiatric ward and treated with Paxil, an antidepressant.
At age 13, she was diagnosed with dystonia, a neurological disorder characterized by involuntary muscle contractions. Doctors sent Ashley to Dr. Zachary Levine, an expert in deep brain stimulation at Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C.
DBS, a procedure where two electrodes are placed in the brain and attached to a pacemaker, is commonly used to treat tremors associated with Parkinson's disease and Tourette's syndrome. The electrodes help control and redirect the misfiring of neurological signals to the affected muscles.
"It's all about helping these people when you can take somebody who couldn't walk and they walk again," said Levine. "You give them a whole new life. And you give their family a whole new life."
After a few months of DBS treatments, Ashley is back in the game.
"I finally had a chance to play with my cousins again, go to the mall, run around with my friends. It was great," Ashley said.
DBS treatments, however, should not be touted as a medical miracle for the 300,000 Americans suffering with dystonia, insisted "Good Morning America" medical correspondent Dr.Tim Johnson.
"The response is variable from one type of dystonia or condition to another, and sometimes the response is immediate," Johnson said.
Ashley's diagnosis and successful treatment have allowed doctors to recognize Vernell's symptoms of dystonia, and her potential for success with DBS treatments.
Ashley has a unique gift for her mother this Mother's Day -- the possibility that she will get the one thing she has always wished for:
"… to write my name again without shaking …"