Parkinson's Treatment Gains Traction

Parkinsons patients gaining awareness of deep brain stimulation

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

(RxWiki News) Deep brain stimulation is gaining acceptance as a treatment capable of helping Parkinson's disease patients with motor function. However, about half of the patients referred for the treatment aren't good candidates.

Though the statistics may seem low, only about 5 percent were good candidates in 2004 indicating that doctors are embracing the new treatment.

"Ask your doctor if you are a good candidate for deep brain stimulation."

Dr. Michele Tagliati, director of the movement disorders program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center's department of neurology, said that physicians still refer patients who may not be good candidates for the therapy because other treatment options have been exhausted or because they have unrealistically high expectations for it.

In deep brain stimulation electrical leads, which are linked to a control device, are surgically implanted. The therapy aids those with Parkinson's better manage symptoms such as tremors and movement control.

During the study, researchers found that only 50 percent of the 197 patients referred for deep brain stimulation were good candidates for immediate therapy. About 25 percent were considered possible future candidates, while the remainder were found to be poor candidates because of other neurological or medical conditions.

Examining the referral sources, investigators found that movement disorder specialists referred more patients and that most were good candidates for the prodedure.

Investigators also found that over the four-year study period which ended in 2009, there was an increase in patients referred for deep brain stimulation at an earlier disease stage.

Dr. Tagliati said that may be because doctors are recognizing that it is better to refer patients too early rather than too late, especially since it is not always clear when the right timing is for deep brain stimulation.

The research was published in Archives of Neurology.

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Review Date: 
August 18, 2011
Last Updated:
August 20, 2011