Scott & White Healthcare researchers studying 'deep brain stimulation' for Parkinson's disease

January 26, 2010

At Scott & White Memorial Hospital, a multi-disciplinary team of neurosurgeons, neurologists, neurophysiologist, neuropsychologists and a movement disorders specialist are offering hope to some Parkinson's patients with a treatment called Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS). DBS involves placing a thin wire that carries electrical currents deep within the brain on Parkinson's patients who are no longer benefitting from medications, and have significant uncontrollable body movements called dyskinesia. Scott & White is also performing research into the effects of DBS on the non-motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease including "drenching sweats," bladder dysfunction, depression, hallucination, anxiety, and dementia as well as intestinal disorders, loss of sense of smell, and sleep disturbances.

"We've found that some Parkinson's patients experienced non-motor symptoms up to 20 to 30 years before their Parkinson's diagnosis, which leads us to believe the presence of these symptoms could be used as predictors of the onset of Parkinson's," said Manjit K Sanghera Ph.D. neurophysiologist at Scott & White and associate professor and director of the Human Electrophysiology Lab, Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine. "If we're better able to identify individuals who are at high risk for Parkinson's, we can engage these patients in neuro-protective therapies, including exercise and medication." Dr. Sanghera's research is funded by the Plummer Foundation.

Parkinson's disease (PD) is a brain disorder that occurs when certain nerve cells or neurons in the brain die. When this happens, these cells no longer produce a chemical called dopamine, which facilitates the smooth, coordinated function of our muscles. When about 80% of these neurons die, that's when Parkinson's makes an appearance. The tell-tale signs include tremors, slowness of movement, rigidity, difficulty with balance, small, cramped handwriting, stiff facial expressions, a shuffling walk, and muffled speech.

"First-line medication works quite well for some time after diagnosis, sometimes a patient's lifetime, but typically a patient will need more and more medication over time to control their Parkinson's," said Gerhard Friehs, M.D., interim chairman of neurosurgery at Scott & White. "As the disease progresses and potentially becomes disabling, a treatment like Deep Brain Stimulation can provide significant improvement to a patient's quality of life."

DBS works by inactivating parts of the brain that cause Parkinson's disease and its associated symptoms without purposefully destroying the brain where electrodes are placed in the globus pallidus or subthalmic nucleus. "These electrodes are connected by wires to a type of pacemaker device implanted under the skin of the chest, below the collarbone, said Dr. Friehs. Once activated, the device sends continuous electrical impulses to the target areas in the brain, blocking the impulses that cause tremors, which can be turned on or off by the patient."

As with any surgical procedure, there are risks with DBS. There is a two to three percent risk of a serious and permanent complication such as paralysis, changes in cognition, memory and personality, seizures and infection.
-end-


Scott & White Healthcare

Related Neurons Articles from Brightsurf:

Paying attention to the neurons behind our alertness
The neurons of layer 6 - the deepest layer of the cortex - were examined by researchers from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University to uncover how they react to sensory stimulation in different behavioral states.

Trying to listen to the signal from neurons
Toyohashi University of Technology has developed a coaxial cable-inspired needle-electrode.

A mechanical way to stimulate neurons
Magnetic nanodiscs can be activated by an external magnetic field, providing a research tool for studying neural responses.

Extraordinary regeneration of neurons in zebrafish
Biologists from the University of Bayreuth have discovered a uniquely rapid form of regeneration in injured neurons and their function in the central nervous system of zebrafish.

Dopamine neurons mull over your options
Researchers at the University of Tsukuba have found that dopamine neurons in the brain can represent the decision-making process when making economic choices.

Neurons thrive even when malnourished
When animal, insect or human embryos grow in a malnourished environment, their developing nervous systems get first pick of any available nutrients so that new neurons can be made.

The first 3D map of the heart's neurons
An interdisciplinary research team establishes a new technological pipeline to build a 3D map of the neurons in the heart, revealing foundational insight into their role in heart attacks and other cardiac conditions.

Mapping the neurons of the rat heart in 3D
A team of researchers has developed a virtual 3D heart, digitally showcasing the heart's unique network of neurons for the first time.

How to put neurons into cages
Football-shaped microscale cages have been created using special laser technologies.

A molecule that directs neurons
A research team coordinated by the University of Trento studied a mass of brain cells, the habenula, linked to disorders like autism, schizophrenia and depression.

Read More: Neurons News and Neurons Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.