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A Second Honeymoon for Parkinson's Disease?
 
Published Thursday, February 14, 2013 5:00 pm
by The Parkinson's Institute and Clinical Center

Editorial by Dr. Caroline M. Tanner, Director of Clinical Research and Movement Disorders Specialist,
published in the New England Journal of Medicine

“Neurostimulation of the subthalamic nucleus, also known as deep brain stimulation (DBS), does not ameliorate all symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, but for carefully chosen, highly functioning patients, it may provide many additional years of good functioning.”

Caroline M. Tanner, MD, PhD      

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Medical therapy for Parkinson’s disease can reduce the motor symptoms of resting tremor, bradykinesia (slow movement), and rigidity. Persons receiving medical therapy typically experience good relief of motor symptoms for a honeymoon period of several years. As Parkinson’s disease progresses, benefit wanes. Fluctuations in motor function develop, so that periods of good motor functioning alternate with periods of reduced functioning. Dyskinesias (involuntary movements), a side effect of levodopa, may occur during periods of good mobility, further reducing quality of life. Deep brain stimulation (DBS) when combined with medical therapy has been shown to benefit persons living with advanced Parkinson’s disease who are experiencing severe motor complications. The effect of deep brain stimulation in those with less advanced Parkinson’s disease who are just beginning to experience motor fluctuations and dyskinesias has not been studied.

A recent study, Neurostimulation for Parkinson’s Disease with Early Motor Complications, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, is the first to investigate deep brain stimulation in people living with Parkinson’s disease who have only recently begun to experience motor complications. The study compared best medical therapy and best medical therapy in addition to deep brain neurostimulation of the subthalamic nucleus. Study findings indicate that best medical therapy in addition to deep brain stimulation is superior to best medical therapy alone. Although this was one of the most rigorously conducted trials of neurostimulation, there are caveats to the clinical application of this procedure.

Learn more and read Dr. Tanner’s editorial: A Second Honeymoon for Parkinson’s Disease?

Did you know? Dr. Tanner was awarded the 2012 Movement Disorders Research Award by the American Academy of Neurology. She was the first woman ever to receive this distinguished award.

Press and media inquiries: Please contact Chelsea E.M. Kasai at (408) 542-5606 or email CKasai@ThePI.org.

References

New England Journal of Medicine, Schuepbach WMM, Rau J, Knudsen K, et al. Neurostimulation for Parkinson’s Disease with Early Motor Complications. Volume 368, Page 610-22. Copyright © 2013 Massachusetts Medical Society.

New England Journal of Medicine, Tanner CM, A Second Honeymoon for Parkinson’s Disease? Volume 368, Page 675-76. Copyright © 2013 Massachusetts Medical Society.


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