Parkinson’s Disease: Combination Treatment Could Help Rare Complication from DBS

According to a story from Parkinson’s News Today, a recent study has found that a combination treatment of levodopa and carbidopa delivered to the intestines could be an effective treatment for Parkinson’s disease patients who experience freezing of gait following treatment with deep brain stimulation (DBS). Though freezing of gait is a common symptom in the disease, DBS can sometimes cause it to occur or make it worse in some patients.

About Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a type of long term, progressive, degenerative illness that affects the central nervous system. Symptoms tend to develop over a period of years and primarily affect the movement ability and mental state of the patient. The cause of Parkinson’s disease remains a mystery, although there are a number of risk factors that have been identified. These factors include head injuries, pesticide exposure, and certain genetic variants and mutations. About 15 percent of patients have a close relative with the disease, suggesting some genetic connection. Symptoms include slowed movements, poor coordination, trouble walking, shaking, stiffness, abnormal posture, depression, anxiety, inhibited thinking, hallucinations, and dementia. Treatment may involve a number of medications, rehabilitation, and surgical operations. Survival rate varies, but most patients survive around a decade after getting diagnosed. To learn more about Parkinson’s disease, click here.

About Freezing of Gait

The impacts of DBS are varied with each patient; as for freezing of gait, some patients find relief after DBS, but it is also clear that DBS can cause it to appear in others. Freezing of gait refers to brief pauses or ‘jerks’ in mid-stride; basically, the feet are unable to move for a couple of seconds even though the patient is intending to walk forward. Some patients find relief by modifying their levodopa dosage or using the medication apomorphine, but others find no relief.

About the Study

However, some previous research suggested that an intestinal gel of levodopa/carbidopa could help treat this symptom. This retrospective study sought to investigate this possibility further and looked at records from 48 Parkinson’s disease patients who had received DBS. Among these records were five female patients with freezing of gait who received treatment with the intestinal gel. 24 hours before administration, their DBS machines were switched off to assess the effects.

Of this group, four patients saw improvement of their freezing of gait symptoms for a year following the treatment. While this finding utilizes are very small group and is also limited by its retrospective nature, the authors conclude that a trial testing the gel as a treatment for freezing of gait in DBS should be initiated to further study the potential benefits.

Learn more about this study here.

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