Today, the most commonly discussed surgical treatment for Parkinson’s disease is deep brain stimulation(DBS), a procedure that seeks to reduce “on/off” fluctuations and dyskinesias. While DBS can greatly improve symptoms, it is a serious intervention involving surgery and therefore currently reserved for patients with advanced disease or medication-induced side effects.
Researchers are improving on the existing DBS technology—an implanted electrode delivers electrical pulses to stimulate or block brain signals—and how we use it. Investigators are exploring DBS in different parts of the brain, such as in the globus pallidus interna, which may help treat non-motor symptoms. They’re also looking at how long the effects last and when in the disease state patients should consider the procedure.
Additionally, right now, patients can make adjustments by turning up or down the amplitude and frequency of the electrical charge, but new advances will allow the brain to essentially make those adjustments on its own. The electrodes will be able to track and record how the brain is responding and adjust the electrical impulse accordingly.
“It would be self-correcting and the amount of stimulation would be determined by the recordings from the brain itself. So it would constantly be recording and adjusting the amount of stimulation based on the recording,” said Jeff Bronstein, MD, PhD, of the University of California, Los Angeles.
LISTEN to the Podcast on Redefining DBS