Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Brain Implants For Parkinson's Show Benefits, Risks

A study of brain-stimulation technology for patients with advanced Parkinson's Disease showed treatment helped battle symptoms better at six months than drugs and therapy did, but also caused many more adverse events such as infections. Parkinson's is a chronic and progressive movement disorder that can cause tremors, issues with balance, speech and movement and several other symptoms. It tends to strike older people, and there are currently nearly one million Americans with the disease, according to the Parkinson's Disease Foundation.

Medication can help, although not all patients respond and medication can lose effectiveness while causing more side effects over time, according to researchers involved with this study. Doctors have also been using stimulation devices to treat patients for the last decade or so. The technology involves implanting a pacemaker-like device in the chest and then running wires deep into patient's brain, where energy is used to stimulate areas linked to movement issues. Medtronic's system today is approved for essential tremor, Parkinson's and another movement disorder called dystonia, and the company is aiming to win approval for epilepsy, depression and obsessive- compulsive disorder.
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