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Deep brain stimulation offers benefits against Parkinson's

Deep brain stimulation via electrodes implanted on both sides of the brain markedly improves the motor skills of patients with advanced Parkinson's Disease, says a new long-term study by researchers at the University of Toronto and Toronto Western Hospital.

"We saw a pronounced decrease in the motor scores associated with Parkinson's Disease - the tremors, stiffness and slowness - and this benefit was persistent through the course of the long-term followup," says Dr. Anthony Lang, professor in U of T's division of neurology, the Jack Clark Chair in Parkinson's Disease Research at the Centre for Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases and director of the Movement Disorders Clinic at Toronto Western Hospital, University Health Network. He and his colleagues used the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) to evaluate both the features of the disease as well as the side-effects of medication. They found motor scores decreased an average of 48 per cent. "This is quite substantial when you compare it to other trials of therapy for Parkinson's Disease," he says.

In the September issue of the Journal of Neurosurgery, Lang and his colleagues describe the first long-term followup of deep brain stimulation on the subthalamic nucleus (one of the deep nuclei in the brain that sits just above the area known as the midbrain). The subthalamic nucleus is part of the group that co-ordinates automatic movements.

Between 1996 and 2001, Lang and his colleagues followed 25 patients who had electrodes implanted into the region of the subthalamic nucleus on both sides of the brain; the electrodes were wired under the skin to pacemaker-like devices. The frequency and intensity of stimulation was adjusted; patients were monitored and evaluated prior to and after surgery while on and off medication.

When patients were off medication, the UPDRS score - which measures both motor skills and the ability of patients to perform daily living activities - impr
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Contact: Janet Wong
jf.wong@utoronto.ca
416-978-5949
University of Toronto
25-Sep-2003


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