Brain therapy fuels Parkinson’s hopes


A device similar to a heart pacemaker that stimulates brain activity in Parkinson’s sufferers could improve their overall quality of life, a charity has found.

Parkinson’s UK said that patients who were treated with deep brain stimulation (DBS) required fewer drugs, experienced an improvement on their symptoms and enjoyed improved motor function, compared with those that were treated with regular medication.

The therapy – administered via a pacemaker-style device called a neurostimulator – could provide a low-cost solution for the NHS, the charity said.

DBS involves the stimulation of certain areas of the brain while blocking abnormal nerve signals.

A trial involving 366 patients who were considered eligible for surgery to carry out DBS found those that underwent the pioneering therapy required less treatment afterwards.

Dr Kieran Breen, the charity’s director of research and development, said: “If somebody is eligible for surgery they should be given surgery.

“For us that is the bottom line.”

Dr Breen said further analysis is now being carried out to look at how the £30,000 cost of the operation and follow-ups compares with the reduced costs of drugs.

“The amount you save in medication actually pays for itself in two to three years,” he estimated.

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