DBS Changed His Life. Now, He’s Changing Others.

As Carl Cannon works to better his community, deep brain stimulation works to keep him at his best.

Pain and Movement|Apr.25, 2023

Carl Cannon is at his best when he's helping others be their best.

Throughout his life, he's helped others realize their potential as he realized his. The one thing that threatened to diminish that potential was a tremor.

Essential tremor, a neurological disorder that causes involuntary shaking, can affect almost any part of the body. Cannon experienced tremors, perhaps the worst in his hands, for the better part of two decades.

Still, as he guided members of his community to a better path, he knew he had to find one for himself. That's when Cannon met deep brain stimulation (DBS) — which uses a pacemaker-like device to send targeted signals to a specific area of the brain to relieve tremor.

"It's incredible when you see a light go on in someone." Cannon was referring to how he betters the lives of people in his community, but he could easily be talking about himself.

Being the Change

Growing up, as he described it, "poor" in Peoria, Ill., Cannon saw the challenges and heartbreak his community faced, including incarceration.

When he joined the military, as a young adult, and became a distinguished member of the military police, Cannon thought he'd found his path in life. He became a prison guard for most of his adult life, seeing the impact of incarceration firsthand.

"I thought that was it for me — working the yard, controlling movement of inmates from housing to work, keeping inmates in," Cannon said.

Until one day, "I didn't want to be me anymore," he recalled. He wanted to prevent incarceration, rather than enforce it.

"Most people in there, if they could go back and make different decisions, they would," Cannon said. "I realized that I was good at keeping people in prison, but I wanted to keep them out."

Cannon saw that he could make an impact right in his backyard. 

In 2011, Cannon started New Window ELITE, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of both kids and adults in Peoria by focusing on behavioral rehabilitation. His efforts include teaching them soft skills and getting students engaged in hobbies or jobs so they are "occupied and off the street."

"We see a total turnaround in people. If you can help flip their behavior, their grades or circumstance will follow," Cannon said. "Then, they can become role models for others."

ELITE, across their elementary and high school programs, re-entry program and game-changers program, has certified more than 1,600 graduates and helped more than 120 people re-enter society after incarceration, boosting student GPAs by 67% in the process.

Making the Change

The mental battle of trying to be his best and act as a role model in his community while struggling to even hand-write a sentence was awful.

Said Cannon: "It was just as much mental as it was physical for me. Having people you're trying to be strong for see you at your weakest …" he trailed off. As he'd tell you, he never thought his tremors would resolve, and over time his quality of life waned.

Then a contact at OSF St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria mentioned DBS.

"I had never heard of it," Cannon said. "But I trusted them, and they knew how these tremors affected me. I had doubts, but I went for it."

In April of 2022, he received our New Window Infinity DBS System and effectively woke up to a new life — one free of tremor.

Since then, Cannon can once again devote his energy to changing lives instead of managing his tremors. He's now a "note-taking nut," as he can write again. He never misses a day in the gym and is more present for the people who need him.

"I'm so grateful," he said. "I'm stronger, and I have the confidence and ability to help adults and kids turn their lives around. I'm doing more teaching and mentoring now than I ever have."

He credits DBS with changing his life, allowing him to go out and do the same for others: a reminder that doing our best helps him do his best.

These are the experiences of this person. Individual experiences, symptoms, situations and results may vary. The placement of a neurostimulation system requires surgery, which exposes patients to certain risks. Complications such as infection, swelling, bruising and possibly the loss of strength or use in an affected limb or muscle group (e.g. paralysis) are possible. Additional risks such as undesirable changes in stimulation may occur over time. Be sure to talk to your doctor about the possible risks associated with neurostimulation.




Brief Summary: Prior to using these devices, please review the User’s Guide for a complete listing of indications, contraindications, warnings, precautions, potential adverse events, and directions for use. The system is intended to be used with leads and associated extensions that are compatible with the system

Indications for Use: Bilateral stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus (STN) or the internal globus pallidus (GPi) as an adjunctive therapy to reduce some of the symptoms of advanced levodopa-responsive Parkinson’s disease that are not adequately controlled by medications, and unilateral or bilateral stimulation of the ventral intermediate nucleus (VIM) of the thalamus for the suppression of disabling upper extremity tremor in adult essential tremor patients whose tremor is not adequately controlled by medications and where the tremor constitutes a significant functional disability.


Contraindications: Patients who are unable to operate the system or for whom test stimulation is unsuccessful.  Diathermy, electroshock therapy, and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) are contraindicated for patients with a deep brain stimulation system.


Warnings/Precautions: Return of symptoms due to abrupt cessation of stimulation (rebound effect), excessive or low frequency stimulation, risk of depression and suicide, implanted cardiac systems or other active implantable devices, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), electromagnetic interference (EMI), proximity to electrosurgery devices and high-output ultrasonics and lithotripsy, ultrasonic scanning equipment, external defibrillators, and therapeutic radiation, therapeutic magnets, radiofrequency sources, explosive or flammable gases, theft detectors and metal screening devices, case damage, activities requiring excessive twisting or stretching, operation of machinery and equipment, and pregnancy.  Loss of coordination is a possible side effect of DBS Therapy, exercise caution when doing activities requiring coordination (for example, swimming), and exercise caution when bathing. Patients who are poor surgical risks, with multiple illnesses, or with active general infections should not be implanted.

Adverse Effects: Loss of therapeutic benefit or decreased therapeutic response, painful stimulation, persistent pain around the implanted parts (e.g. along the extension path in the neck), worsening of motor impairment, paresis, dystonia, sensory disturbance or impairment, speech or language impairment, and cognitive impairment.  Surgical risks include intracranial hemorrhage, stroke, paralysis, and death. Other complications may include seizures and infection. User’s Guide must be reviewed for detailed disclosure.

To review the full Impotant Safety Information (ISI), please click HERE.