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Deep Brain Stimulation Improves Parkinson's Symptoms Long-Term
Date:8/8/2011

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Aug. 8 (HealthDay News) -- The benefit of deep brain stimulation in controlling tremors and improving motor function for those with Parkinson's disease appears to last at least 10 years, according to a small new study by Canadian researchers.

Parkinson's disease is one of several conditions called motor system disorders, which are caused by the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells. The main symptoms of Parkinson's disease are tremors or trembling in hands, arms, legs, jaw and face; rigidity or stiffness of the limbs and trunk; slowed movement; and impaired balance and coordination.

As the disease progresses, patients can have difficulty walking, talking or doing other simple tasks, according to the U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

In deep brain stimulation, a surgeon implants a small device called a neurostimulator under the skin near the collar bone. The doctor then positions wires from the device with electrodes on their ends in areas of the brain that control motor function. The device works by electrically stimulating these areas, blocking abnormal nerve signals that cause the tremor in Parkinson's disease patients.

"Deep brain stimulation is still effective in improving motor signs in advanced Parkinson's disease patients 10 years after the surgery," said lead researcher Dr. Elena Moro, an assistant professor of neurology at the University of Toronto.

"However, this surgery does not stop the slow progression of the disease over time, as documented by the progressive loss of benefit that both deep brain stimulation and the drug levodopa show in improving walking, balance and speech over the years," she said. (Levodopa combined with carbidopa is the most widely used drug treatment for Parkinson's disease.)

Parkinson's disease patients who are considering deep brain stimulation surgery should always ask their doc
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