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VA-NIH Study Offers Hope for Parkinson's Patients
Date:1/13/2009

so developing side effects from the drugs, such as involuntary face, arm or leg movements.

Researchers followed the patients for six months, finding:

  • Patients who received DBS gained an average of 4.6 hours per day of good motor control and few or no involuntary movements, compared with no gain for those on medical therapy alone;
  • 71 percent of DBS patients showed significant gains in motor function, compared with only 32 percent of drug therapy patients; and
  • Serious adverse side effects were nearly four times more common in the DBS group, but almost all of these effects in both groups were resolved during the six-month study. The most common side effects from DBS were infections, falls, depression, gait and balance problems, and pain.

Lead authors and study co-chairs were Frances Weaver, PhD, a researcher with the Center for Management of Complex Chronic Care at the Hines VA Hospital near Chicago, and Dr. Kenneth Follett, a neurosurgeon at the Omaha VA Medical Center and University of Nebraska. They emphasize that besides the higher likelihood of serious side effects with DBS compared with drug therapy, another drawback of the procedure is that, although it generally improves movement, it does little to help other Parkinson's symptoms such as depression, decline in mental ability, gait and balance problems, and trouble with gastrointestinal, urinary or sexual function.

"The results of the study should not be over- or under-stated," said Dr. Michael Kussman, VA's Under Secretary for Health. "Still, there are many good candidates for DBS among patients with Parkinson's disease whom we treat in VA."

The trial was sponsored by VA's Cooperative Studies Program and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, part of the National Institutes of Health. Additional support came from Medtronic, wh
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SOURCE U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
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