Is Deep Brain Stimulation Safe for Parkinson’s?

Based on a report by Parkinson’s News Today, a recent study confirmed the safety of an increasingly popular Parkinson’s treatment. The treatment, known as deep brain stimulation, has long been viewed as effective. Side-effects, and long term effects, however, were lesser known quantities. The recent Russian study tracked this form of treatment over a seven year period. Keep reading to learn more, or follow the original story here for further information.

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a condition affecting the central nervous system. Specifically, Parkinson’s primarily affects movement. It may begin with a slight tremor in various parts of the body, and progress to a point where patients can no longer stand unassisted.

Common symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include tremor or shaking in the hands, slowed movement, rigid muscles, and loss of automatic movements such as blinking. Parkinson’s is caused as a result of certain brain neurons dying. While it remains unknown what causes the death of these neurons, genetics and environmental triggers seem to play a role. The presence of protein structures called Lewy bodies is also a major risk factor for Parkinson’s disease.

Click here to learn more about Parkinson’s disease

Deep Brain Stimulation

Subthalmic deep brain stimulation (STN-DBS) is a Parkinson’s treatment which is nondestructive. It involves the surgical implantation of a battery-powered device. The device creates electrical impulses in specific regions of the brain which may be used to treat the motor symptoms associated with Parkinson’s.

The new study conducted by Russian researchers followed 33 patients over seven years. Researchers observed a significant improvement in patients’ motor function. Patient’s who underwent STN-DBS also required less drug therapy for their condition.

Another study conducted by a Korean research group showed STN-DBS to be safe for patients. The study finished by observing after ten years. This study specifically focused on patients with advanced Parkinson’s disease. 13 members of the study had young disease onset, and 11 had late onset. The deep brain stimulation treatment had important effects for each group at different times. This suggests that STN-DBS may need some tailoring per patient to become a more truly effective treatment.

Despite a need to further specialize this kind of treatment, both studies show deep brain stimulation to be a long-term beneficial option for patients with advanced Parkinson’s disease.

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