Deep Brain Stimulation Benefits Parkinson's Patients

Posted on February 19 2013

Parkinson’s disease has been treated with drug therapy for many years, especially in new cases. A device normally used with patients in the late stages of the disease may show great promise for early-stage patients as well. The new course of treatment, deep brain stimulation, has been utilized with Parkinson’s patients who have entered into the late stages of the disease. Researchers have now found that the use of deep brain stimulation in newly diagnosed patients, accompanied by a regular drug regimen, can decrease symptoms significantly, allowing patients to lead their regular lifestyle for longer. Parkinson’s disease is one that affects the nervous system. Specific cells in the brain are responsible for the production of the hormone dopamine. These cells die off in Parkinson’s cases, leading to a lack of dopamine in the patient’s body. This hormonal deficiency causes activity in the subthalamic nucleus, which influences body movement to increase. Over time, the effects of Parkinson’s strips patients of social activities, careers, and body movement. The study followed 251 patients over 7-and-a-half years.  Patients were split up into two groups, one group was prescribed only a drug regimen, while the other group was prescribed both the drugs and deep brain stimulation. Over the course of the study, the quality of life improved for those in the group receiving both treatments, while the progressive disease continued to worsen for those in the drug-only group. Drug regimens can do as much damage to the body as Parkinson’s disease can. Deep brain stimulation would allow for an additional course of treatment, taking some stress off of the body from the medications. However, while the deep brain stimulation supports regular daily functions, it isn’t a complete fix, it has its own side effects including suicide, and will not save patients from mobility loss as the disease progresses. While it isn’t the answer to curing Parkinson’s, deep brain stimulation offers patients another opportunity to live the fullest life they can and assists in prolonging hurdles of the disease, even for a limited time. Like with any course of treatment, there are side effects and deep brain stimulation may not be right for every Parkinson’s patient. Speak with your physician about whether this could be the right course of treatment for your needs. Sources: MedPage Today - Bloomberg - News - US News and World Report/HealthDay -


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