Deep Brain Stimulation May Help Parkinson's Sufferers Regain Motor Functions

By: CBS News Email
By: CBS News Email

New research shows deep brain stimulation can help improve the quality of life for patients with Parkinson's disease by helping them regain control of their motor functions.
But the treatment - similar to a pacemaker for the brain - does have risks.
Eileen Mosimann is getting around a lot easier these days.
The 65 year-old was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease 10 years ago, but says thanks to a surgical treatment, her symptoms have practically disappeared.
"Sometimes I can't remember what it was like, because my progress has been pretty good," says Mosimann
A new study found deep brain stimulation reduces tremors and gives patients better control of movement.
Electrodes are implanted in the brain and connected to a small electronic device that is implanted in the chest, which sends constant electrical signals back to the brain.
"By sending these little electrical pulses in the center of the circuit that regulates movement, you can change the abnormal flow of information in Parkinson's disease," says Dr. Michael Kaplitt, a neurosurgeon at NewYork Presbyterian Hospital.
Researchers found after six months of treatment, 71 percent of patients undergoing D-B-S had improved motor function -- with the average patient regaining 4 and a half hours a day of good motor control. Patients getting just drug therapy did not see that improvement.
But the treatment isn't without risk. The study -- which was funded in part by the device maker -- found that some patients had adverse effects including infections and nervous system disorders. One patient died.
But for patients like Mosimann, it's been different.
"I swim, I do yoga, I try to keep active. There's some days I'm not 100 percent, but for the most part... a lot of people said they'd never know I had the condition," says Mosimann.
For her, the possibility of resuming normal activities outweighs the potential risks.
Of the 1-point-5 million patients with Parkinson's disease in the US, experts say that about 10 percent should be good candidates for Deep Brain Stimulation. But only about 10-thousand patients have had the procedure to implant the device.
Doctors hope large studies like this one will mean more patients get access to what the research shows is a very effective treatment.

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