Brain Stimulation for Parkinson's Patients

Deep brain stimulation lasts up to 10 years with Parkinsons

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Brain stimulation is believed to aid Parkinson's disease patients with improved motor function. That stimulation remains effective even a decade after the original treatment.

Some of the initial benefit of deep brain stimulation wears off, mostly because of the progressive loss of other functions, yet patients still retain motor function improvements.

"Consider deep brain stimulation for Parkinson's."

Dr. Anna Castrioto from the Università degli Studi di Perugia in Italy said the findings show that long-term response to subthalamic nucleus stimulation in Parkinson's patients provides prolonged motor improvement for up to 10 years.

Previous research has shown that deep brain stimulation, a technique which stimulates part of the brain involved in motor function, is effective. It is believed to have advantages over other medical treatments in controlling motor complications and improving overall quality of life.

Previously the stimulation was reported to be effective between five to eight years after surgery with a gradual deterioration of the initial benefit. Few studies had examined effectiveness of the procedure beyond eight years.

Researchers studied 18 patients with advanced Parkinson's who received deep brain stimulation implants between 1996 and 2000. They assessed motor skills before implantation, and at one, five and 10 years. Patients were videotaped in assessments without medication, without stimulation, without either and with both.

At the 10-year mark, the combination of medication and deep brain stimulation was linked to significantly better motor, resting and action tremors and improved rigidity and slowed movement scores. Improvements were seen regardless of whether the medication was included. Patients showed the most decline in axial signs, which includes posture, gait and balance.

The research was published in Online First by Archives of Neurology, one of the Journal of the American Medical Association/Archives journals.

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Review Date: 
August 9, 2011
Last Updated:
August 12, 2011