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Device Calms Parkinson's Tremor for 3+ Years

Quality of Life, Daily Living Did Not Improve in Study

After the 'Wow Effect' continued...

The research still helps doctors in more ways than one, though. "People got a fairly even motor benefit from both implantation sites," says Stuart Isaacson, MD. He is the director of the Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders Center of Boca Raton, Fla., and an associate professor of neurology at Florida International University's Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine in Miami.

"This is hopeful because it allows different places for us to implant the device," he says. "We would expect the procedure to have a good benefit over years and years, but we just didn't have great evidence until now."

Isaacson reiterates that deep brain stimulation is not a cure for Parkinson's disease. "We are still looking for a cure, and this is a way of trying to manage the symptoms for a longer period of time while we await the cure."

Weaver agrees: "Deep brain stimulation is not a cure for Parkinson's disease, but it is a treatment option for many people who are no longer benefiting from their medication," she says.

Is Deep Brain Stimulation Right for You?

So when is the right time to talk to a doctor about deep brain stimulation? "When the medicine isn't working the way it used to, and you are having unpredictable motor function problems, it may be a good time to consider this surgery," Weaver says.

Not everyone with Parkinson's disease will be a candidate. People who have severe mental disability or other medical problems may not be eligible.

Location, Location, Location

Tagliati also says the findings help guide doctors on where in the brain to implant the device.

"Until this study, the decision of location was based on the experience, expertise, and mood of the surgeon or neurologist," he says. For a long time, the belief was that STN was a superior target.

But not according to the findings, Tagliati says. Those people whose device is implanted in the GP region of their brain may maintain thinking and mental faculties longer. "It was as if the disease did not progress as much as in [the] other group," he says.

This target may work better with medication than the other one.

Anyone considering this surgery should ask about the different targets and which makes more sense for them, he says.

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