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Parkinson's Disease Health Center

Deep Brain Stimulation May Offer Lasting Benefits for Parkinson’s Disease

Study: Patients Continue to See Improvement in Tremors 10 Years After Surgery
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Timeline for the Benefits of Deep Brain Stimulation continued...

And when researchers compared their results to the kinds of improvements the patients had seen in years past, they found some benefits appeared to be longer lasting than others.

“The benefits in some aspects were quite durable, including the benefits to the tremor and slowness of movement called bradykinesia,” Lozano tells WebMD. “Standing and walking, posture, balance and speech, those things got worse with time.”

Over time, people in the study saw their speech get slightly worse. The ability to get up from a chair initially improved on brain stimulation, but after five years, the effect had largely worn off, and after a decade, people were slightly worse off when rising from a chair than they were before their had their stimulators implanted.

Posture and walking showed similar patterns of improvement after one year, with a return to original symptoms after a decade.

“Now the next challenge is to work on those things like balance, gait, and so on, that we were not able to help in the long run, try to understand what causes those problems and try to help those,” says Lozano, who is a paid consultant for the company that makes the deep brain stimulation devices.

The study is published in the Archives of Neurology.

What Patients Can Expect

Experts who were not involved in the research say it echoes the kinds of results they’ve seen in their own patients.

“I personally have been following patients of my own for 12 or 13 years, and I’ve been seeing similar things” says Alon Mogilner, MD, PhD, chief of functional and restorative neurosurgery at Cushing Neuroscience Institutes at The North Shore-LIJ Health System in Great Neck, N.Y.

“What I always tell patients is, ‘whatever symptoms it treats within the first year or so it will continue to treat,’” Mogilner says. "'You may need adjustments over time, and you may develop other symptoms that the DBS [deep brain stimulation] can’t treat,'" he says.

Other experts agreed.

“There are certain things it will treat dramatically, like the tremors. It will also help slowness and stiffness, and we’re able to reduce medications significantly,” says Michael Rezak, MD, PhD, director of the Movement Disorders Center at Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield, Ill.

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