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Deep Brain Stimulation Benefits Parkinson's Patients

But therapy is associated with serious adverse events

TUESDAY, Jan. 6 (HealthDay News) -- In patients with advanced Parkinson's disease, those who receive deep brain stimulation treatment may experience greater improvement in movement skills and quality of life than those who receive conventional therapy, according to a report published in the Jan. 7 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Frances M. Weaver, Ph.D., of Hines VA Hospital in Hines, Ill., and colleagues randomly assigned 255 Parkinson's disease patients to receive either bilateral deep brain stimulation or best medical therapy and followed them for six months.

Compared to the best medical therapy group, the researchers found that the deep brain stimulation group gained significantly more good symptom control or unimpeded motor function without troubling dyskinesia (4.6 hours versus 0 hours) and motor function improvement (71 percent versus 32 percent). However, the deep brain stimulation group had a 3.8 times higher risk of serious adverse events, which included surgical site infection, nervous system disorders, psychiatric disorders, device-related complications and cardiac disorders, the authors report.

"Overall the results of this important study by Weaver et al. have convincingly confirmed the six-month efficacy of deep brain stimulation for advanced Parkinson's disease in the largest patient group studied thus far. However, this study, along with previous research on this therapy, shows that such progress cannot be made without costs in terms of adverse effects," states the author of an accompanying editorial.

Authors of the study and editorial report financial relationships with medical companies.

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