Parkinson’s: Brain Implant Stimulation treatment…

Deep Brain Stimulation for patients’ diagnosed with Parkinson.

Parkinson’s, a neurodegenerative condition, is characterized by symptoms such as muscle stiffness and tremor in the limbs, as well as impaired balance, all of which tend to worsen over time. Has innovative research found a more reliable tool that helps to improve these symptoms?

What are the Symptoms?

Parkinson’s disease has four main symptoms:

  • Tremor (trembling) in hands, arms, legs, jaw, or head
  • The stiffness of the limbs and trunk
  • Slowness of movement
  • Impaired balance and coordination, sometimes leading to falls

Other symptoms may include depression and other emotional changes; difficulty swallowing, chewing, and speaking; urinary problems or constipation; skin problems; and sleep disruptions.

Brain implant could improve therapy

An adjustable new brain stimulation implant could bring Parkinson’s therapy to a whole new level.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) report that approximately 50,000 individuals in the United States receive a Parkinson’s disease diagnosis every year.

Available treatments for this condition target its symptoms, aiming to improve the patients’ quality of life.

These treatments include different types of drugs that may focus either on the motor on non-motor effects of the disease, as well as deep brain stimulation, which may be offered as an alternative therapy to people who do not respond well to drugs

What is Deep Brain Stimulation?

Parkinson’s suffers who do not respond well to medications, deep brain stimulation, or DBS may be appropriate. DBS is a surgical procedure that surgically implants electrodes into part of the brain and connects them to a small electrical device implanted in the chest. 

The device and electrodes painlessly stimulate the brain in a way that helps stop many of the movement-related symptoms of Parkinson’s, such as tremor, slowness of movement, and rigidity.

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a type of therapy that uses electrical stimulation to treat Parkinson’s disease (PD), essential tremor, multiple sclerosis, and certain other neurological conditions.

DBS can be effective in treating movement problems such as tremors, stiffness, difficulty in walking, and slowed movement. 

Doctors may use DBS when medications have become less effective and/or when side effects of the medications interfere with daily active life. 

DBS does not cure PD or other conditions, but it can ease symptoms and decrease the number of medications a person need to treat the symptoms, thus improving their quality of life.

What are the procedure’s risks?

As with any surgical procedure, complications can occur. Possible complications include:

  • Hemorrhage (bleeding) in the brain
  • Leaking of cerebrospinal fluid into brain tissue; this clear fluid is found in the brain and spinal cord
  • Infection
  • Stroke
  • Pain and/or swelling at the surgery site
  • Movement of the electrode from the original location
  • Allergic reaction to one or more parts of the implanted device

Side effects that may occur after the surgery include:

  • Temporary tingling in the face and limbs
  • Slight paralysis
  • Problems with speech or vision
  • Jolting or shocking sensation
  • Dizziness and/or loss of balance
  • Reduced coordination
  • Difficulty with concentration

The new type of brain stimulation implant

The researchers tested a type of implant that responds and adjusts to signals from the brain that are related to the symptoms experienced in Parkinson’s disease. Not only does it register these inputs, but in doing so, it also adapts to deliver appropriate stimulation as needed.


However, this is the first time, a fully implanted device has been used for closed-loop [non-constant], adaptive deep brain stimulation in a person with the Parkinson’s disease. 

This landmark study brings researchers one step closer to learning how to prevent the onset of neurodegenerative conditions.

The trial’s results indicated that this type of implant was no less effective in reducing Parkinson’s symptoms than traditional deep brain stimulation.

Also, since this device is adaptive and does not send out stimuli constantly, the researchers noted that it saves approximately 40 percent of the battery energy that would normally be consumed during traditional, open-loop brain stimulation.

Because these tests were only carried out over a short period of time, it was not possible for the investigators to establish exactly how the innovative implant performed, compared with more traditional brain stimulation devices, when it comes to instances of dyskinesia.

However, due to the new implant’s adaptability, the researchers are hopeful that the closed-loop stimulation device would fare much better in this respect and possibly lead to fewer adverse effects.

Acknowledgments & References

 U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. – National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Johns Hopkins Medicine: the deep brain stimulation center. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) report.   The results of their efforts — which were part of the Advancing Innovative Technologies (BRAIN) Initiative — have been reported in the Journal of Neural Engineering.

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