AP NEWS

Study: Implant could improve Parkinson’s treatment

May 29, 2018

A brain-stimulating implant could better help treat Parkinson’s disease symptom than the methods being using for the past 25 years, according to a new study from the National Institutes of Health.

The study, supported by NIH’s Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Technologies Initiative and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, describes the first fully implanted deep brain stimulation system that uses feedback from the brain itself to fine-tune its signaling.

“The novel approach taken in this small-scale feasibility study may be an important first step in developing a more refined or personalized way for doctors to reduce the problems patients with Parkinson’s disease face every day,” said Nick B. Langhals, program director at NINDS and team lead for the BRAIN Initiative, in a news release.

Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative disease that affects certain neurons in the brains. Symptoms often develop slowly over several years and include tremors, limb rigidity and balance and gait problems.

According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, Parkinson’s affects about one million people in the United States and ten million worldwide. In Connecticut, the Centers for Disease Control and prevention, reports that there were 358 Parkinson’s-related deaths in the state in 2016, the most recent year for which there were statistics.

According to the NIH, deep brain stimulation is a method of managing Parkinson’s disease symptoms by surgically implanting a thin wire into the brain. Traditional deep brain stimulation delivers constant stimulation to a part of the brain called the basal ganglia to help treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s. However, this approach can lead to unwanted side effects, requiring reprogramming by a trained clinician. The new method described in this study is adaptive, so that the stimulation delivered is responsive in real time to signals received from the patient’s brain.

The device differs from traditional ones in that it can both monitor and modulate brain activity.

NIH reported that the results of initial, short-term studies aimed at demonstrating feasibility and effectiveness of using adaptive deep brain stimulation to overcome the impediment to movement of Parkinson’s suggested that this adaptive approach was equally effective at controlling symptoms as traditional deep brain stimulation.