Honolulu, Hawaii – Using an electrical brain stimulator can improve the quality of life for Parkinson''s disease patients long term, according to research presented during the American Academy of Neurology Annual Meeting in Honolulu, March 29-April 5, 2003.
The study involved 34 patients who were followed for an average of 21.5 months after the stimulator was implanted.
"These results are exciting and important because they show that not only do physicians see an improvement in the symptoms of Parkinson''''''''s disease, but the patients also report substantial improvement in their quality of life as a result of the surgery," said the study’s lead author, Kelly E. Lyons, PhD, of the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City.
The patients improved by an average of 22 percent on a scale rating quality of life. The areas with the most improvement include increased mobility, decreased bodily discomfort, and improvements in their ability to complete daily activities, such as getting dressed or preparing a meal. The patients also improved by an average of 38 percent on a scale measuring their motor functioning.
The people with the most improvement in motor functioning were likely to have the most improvement in quality of life as well.
"This is also impressive because all of these patients were receiving the optimal medical treatment prior to receiving the implant," Lyons said.
The patients received the stimulation on both sides of the brain in the subthalamic nucleus area. The patients ranged from 35 to 76 years old, and had Parkinson''''''''s for more than eight years, on average.
The treatment uses two surgically implanted devices, similar to cardiac pacemakers, to deliver electrical stimulation to targeted areas of the brain. Stimulation of these areas blocks the signals that cause the tremors and other motor symptoms of the disease.
The study was supported in part by the Parkinson Association of Greater Kansas City and the National Parkinson Foundation.
The American Academy of Neurology, an association of more than 19,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to improving patient care through education and research. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as stroke, Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy, Parkinson's disease, autism and multiple sclerosis.
For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit www.aan.com.
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Editor's Notes: Dr. Lyons will present the research during a poster presentation on Tues., April 1, at 5:30 p.m. in Kamehameha I and II at the Hawaii Convention Center (HCC). Dr. Lyons will be available to answer media questions during a briefing on Mon., March 31, at 3:00 p.m. in the AAN Press Room, Room 327 of the HCC.
All listed times are for Hawaiian-Aleutian Standard Time (HT).