New treatment may help Parkinson's patients to live longer

Its called deep brain stimulation or DBS, and holds the promise of longer survival for Parkinson’s patients.

Earlier study in France shows DBS improves motor functions by 70%.

Researchers at a hospital in Illinois, United States, have found that patients who were given stimulation through an implanted device had a decent survival advantage compared with those who were treated with medication only.

What is Parkinson's disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects the brain cells that produce dopamine. The cause is not known so far and nor is there a cure. The disease is not fatal but but complications arising from it can lead to death.

Common signs of Parkinson’s disease are tremors, slow movement, limb rigidity, and problems with walking and balance. People with Parkinson’s disease have a shorter life expectancy than those without the disease.

In DBS, an impulse generator battery, like that used in pacemakers, is implanted, under the collarbone or in the abdomen. The battery creates electrical impulses that the electrodes deliver to the brain tissue. Doctors say the improvement is immediate and the dyskinesia involuntary muscle movements are either completely gone or greatly reduced. The patient can move around and do things they hadn’t been able to.

Patients treated with DBS lived an average of 6.3 years after the surgery, while for non-DBA it was 5.7 years, a difference of just eight months.

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