Brain Stimulation Helps Parkinson’s Patients

There are several medications available to Parkinson’s patients to relieve their symptoms but when they aren’t effective a procedure called deep brain stimulation (DBS) is sometimes used. DBS consists of surgically implanting electrodes in deep brain structures that help control movement, and then delivering stimulation through the electrodes with a device very much like a pacemaker. One common target is the subthalamic nucleus (STN). The problem has been that although DBS can relieve movement problems it may incur problems in the patient’s cognition. Doctor’s do not fully understand the reasons for that.
A theory is being investigated by Dr. Joel Perlmutter, a professor of neurology and radiology at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo. to try to improve DBS and reduce its side effects. He has been targeting the stimulation to one particular site in the brain and avoiding another nearby site. Funding for the research is being provided from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke through a recent congressional act called ARRA.
Studies show that stimulating the dorsal part (top) of the STN  can lead to desirable activity in the brain’s motor pathways, while stimulating the ventral part (bottom) can lead to negative activity in other brain pathways that are involved in cognition.
Dr. Perlmutter, together with his team, will examine Parkinson’s patients who have received DBS to the STN, and to try to pinpoint the location of the electrodes – which can possibly change after surgery. Their purpose is to  analyze how electrode location affects the  motor symptoms, cognitive function and cortical activity. In order to  locate the electrodes, the team instituted a method that involves reconstructing 2-D brain scans into 3-D maps, and then using landmarks in and around the STN for orientation.
From this research there should be a better understanding of how DBS works and improvements made in  treating Parkinson’s. This will include a better design and targeting of the electrodes. Besides that, the research is expected to yield insights into the function of the STN and how it is involved in other neurological disorders.
When Parkinson’s disease causes movement disorders physical therapy solutions become vital. The HANDTUTOR has been in the forefront of Parkinson’s patient exercise therapy for some time now. The HANDTUTOR consists of a safe comfortable glove with position and speed sensors that precisely record finger and wrist motion. Rehabilitation games allow the patient to exercise Range of Motion, speed and accuracy of movement opposition and pinch movement practice. The HANDTUTOR facilitates evaluation and treatment of isolated and combined finger/s and wrist joint.
Together with its sister devices (ARMTUTOR, LEGTUTOR, 3DTUTOR) the HANDTUTOR is currently in use in leading U.S. and European hospitals and rehabilitation clinics. They are fully certified by the FDA and CE and are available for use in the patient’s home through telerehabilitation.
See WWW.MEDITOUCH.CO.IL for further information.
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