Brain Electrodes For Parkinson's

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Deep brain stimulation appears to reduce uncontrolled movements in people with Parkinson's disease.

Valerie Anderson, PhD, and colleagues report their findings in April's Archives of Neurology.

Deep brain stimulation suppresses uncontrolled movements by using electrical impulses to block signals from the brain that cause these movements. Surgery is required to implant tiny wire electrodes that produce the electrical impulses. The device can be turned on or off as needed.

Parkinson's disease affects certain brain cells that make dopamine, a chemical messenger that helps direct movement. As those cells are destroyed, dopamine decreases, garbling the brain's movement signals.

Symptoms include shaking (tremor), stiff muscles (rigidity), and slow movement (bradykinesia). Parkinson's usually starts in middle age or later, progressing gradually. Although there is no cure, medications (and sometimes surgery) can help manage symptoms. Deep brain stimulation is an option in patients with advanced Parkinson's disease whose movements cannot be controlled with medication or have intolerable side effects from their medication.