Akemi Noll scrambles around the third court inside the Vancouver Tennis Center, rallying with her husband, Joe.
Noll, a 52-year-old Vancouver resident, displays a backhand, then a forehand, making Joe chase after tennis balls. Noll is only a recreational tennis player, but her skills are beside the point.
Six months ago, Noll needed a wheelchair just to leave her house.
Now she plays tennis three times a week.
That physical transformation is because of a deep brain stimulation surgery Noll had at Oregon Health & Science University in May. The surgery eases the effects of Parkinson’s, a disease Noll was diagnosed with about 12 years ago.
“I don’t need to depend on anybody so I can be an individual,” Noll said.
“It’s like a light switch,” Joe Noll added.
The surgery was performed by Dr. Kim Burchiel, who pioneered deep brain stimulation, or DBS, in the U.S., conducting the first American DBS surgery at OHSU about 28 years ago. The surgery is now conducted in about 100 medical centers nationwide, according to OHSU.