Deep brain stimulation could help treat Parkinson’s disease

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Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that affects movement. It can cause symptoms like tremors, stiffness, and difficulty with balance and coordination. As the disease progresses, these symptoms can become more severe and disrupt daily life.

One of the most promising treatments emerging for managing advanced Parkinson’s disease is deep brain stimulation (DBS). This review explains what DBS is, how it works, and its effects on Parkinson’s symptoms, all presented in straightforward language.

Deep brain stimulation involves a surgical procedure where electrodes are implanted in specific areas of the brain. These electrodes are connected to a generator implanted in the chest near the collarbone that sends electrical impulses to the brain.

The electrical impulses can help regulate abnormal impulses, or increase or decrease certain brain signals, depending on the patient’s needs.

The primary targets for the electrodes in Parkinson’s disease are areas in the brain that control movement. By stimulating these areas, DBS can help reduce symptoms such as tremors, slowness of movement (bradykinesia), and stiffness.

The procedure is typically considered for patients whose symptoms cannot be effectively managed with medication alone or who experience severe side effects from their medications.

Research shows that DBS can significantly improve the quality of life for many patients with Parkinson’s.

A landmark study published in the New England Journal of Medicine demonstrated that DBS is more effective in controlling Parkinson’s symptoms compared to the best medical therapy alone for patients with advanced Parkinson’s.

The study highlighted improvements in motor function, the ability to perform daily activities, and reduced medication needs.

Another important aspect of DBS is its potential to reduce the amount of medication patients need. Parkinson’s medications often become less effective over time as the disease progresses and can produce unwanted side effects like involuntary movements (dyskinesia).

DBS can provide stable symptom control, which allows many patients to lower their medication doses, leading to fewer side effects.

Despite its benefits, DBS is not without risks. It is a serious surgical procedure that carries risks such as infection, stroke, or brain hemorrhage, although these are rare.

Other less severe side effects may include headache, confusion, difficulty speaking, and balance problems immediately after the surgery. Additionally, finding the most effective settings for the stimulation can take time and adjustments by a specialist.

DBS is not a cure for Parkinson’s disease, and not everyone with Parkinson’s is a candidate for the surgery. It is most effective for individuals who respond well to Parkinson’s medication but whose symptoms are not adequately controlled with pills alone.

The decision to undergo DBS involves careful screening by a team of specialists, including neurologists and neurosurgeons, who consider the patient’s overall health, the specifics of their Parkinson’s symptoms, and their response to previous treatments.

In conclusion, deep brain stimulation offers significant benefits for some people with advanced Parkinson’s disease, providing better control of symptoms and improving quality of life.

It allows many patients to reduce their dependence on medications and manage the side effects more effectively. As research continues, the techniques and technology of DBS are being refined, promising even greater improvements in the management of Parkinson’s disease in the future.

For those struggling with advanced symptoms, DBS might indeed be a spark of hope, offering a chance to regain some control over their movements and their life.

If you care about Parkinson’s disease, please read studies that Vitamin B may slow down cognitive decline, and Mediterranean diet could help lower risk of Parkinson’s.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies that blueberry supplements may prevent cognitive decline, and results showing Plant-based diets could protect cognitive health from air pollution.

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