Research Insights

Deep brain stimulation may reduce the relative risk of clinically important worsening in early stage Parkinson

Hacker ML, Tonascia J, Turchan M, Currie A, Heusinkveld L, Konrad PE, Davis TL, Neimat JS, Phibbs FT, Hedera P, Wang L, Shi Y, Shade DM, Sternberg AL, Drye LT, Charles D. Deep brain stimulation may reduce the relative risk of clinically important worsening in early stage Parkinson , 2015 Oct;21(10):1177-83. doi: 10.1016/j.parkreldis.2015.08.008. Epub 2015 Aug 11. PMID:

Introduction:   This article is an analysis of a pilot study completed at Vanderbilt University as a part of a clinical trial looking at the efficacy of early deep brain stimulation (DBS) for people with Parkinson’s disease (PWP).  The information gained was used to inform additional phases of the trial.
Method:  Two groups of PWP, early in their stages of Parkinson’s disease (PD), aged 50-75, were studied.  One group was given DBS and optimal drug therapy (N=9) while the other was only given optimal drug therapy (N=11). The group had a series of multidisciplinary evaluations over a two year time frame.  

Results:  The authors found that the medication only group experienced more significant worsening of motor and quality of life symptoms than the DBS plus medication group at the two year mark.  Notably symptom improvement was documented by the PWP as well as medical personnel.
Conclusion:  The authors note the limitations of their study (e.g. small sample size, post hoc analyses) but discuss the improvements they have made for the larger phase III trial.  They also note the significant finding that the group of PWP that underwent DBS and took medications for their PD had better results than those who only took medications in a variety of areas.  The next phase of their research is going to be bigger and address concerns brought up by multiple groups studying PD and DBS.  Hopefully they will find similar results in the larger well designed FDA approved trial as PWP would then have access to a treatment that shows better promise to minimize motor and nonmotor symptoms in this challenging disease.

Click here to read the abstract.


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