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Deep-Brain Stimulation for Dystonia patients

A procedure called deep-brain stimulation may improve the condition of patients suffering from dystonia, a neurological disorder //characterized by involuntary muscle contractions resulting in repetitive movements.

In this technique, a brain-implant device comprising a thin wire carrying electric current is placed inside the brain. Dr. Guenther Deuschl, a professor of neurology at Christian-Albrechts University, said, 'It is a reasonable treatment for people who have failed other therapies.'

Deuschl and his colleagues conducted a study on 40 patients with severe dystonia for 5 years. Medicines gave only partial success. This study was published on November 9 in the New England Journal of Medicine. The deep brain stimulation device was surgically implanted into a part of their brain related to dystonia. The patients were divided into 2 groups. The first group's device was programmed to function after a week of implantation.

After 3 months, improvement in movement, decrease in disability and improved life was observed in patients whose implant was activated. The other group's implant was activated and both the groups were observed after 3 months.

The improvements in the first group sustained and similar improvements were noticed in the other group also. 46% improvement on an average was observed in both the groups. The symptoms reduced by half in almost 50% of them.

'It simply shows that patients with generalized and segmental dystonia do better when they receive stimulation than if they do not,' Deuschl says. 'A 51 percent reduction in the movement score is a dramatic result when it comes to treatment of dystonia. To have such a degree of improvement is exceptional to other therapeutics.'

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