Deep brain stimulation may help with driving for people with Parkinson's disease

December 18, 2013

Deep brain stimulation may have a beneficial effect on driving ability for people with Parkinson's disease, according to a new study published in the December 18, 2013, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Deep brain stimulation uses a surgical implant similar to a pacemaker to send electrical impulses to the brain.

"Up until now, we weren't sure how would affect driving," said study author Carsten Buhmann, MD, of University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf in Hamburg, Germany. "On the one hand, it might enhance driving ability by improving the motor problems which occur with Parkinson's disease, but on the other hand, it might hamper driving because it potentially causes a decline in executive cognitive skills."

The study involved 23 people who had deep brain stimulators, 21 people with Parkinson's disease who did not have stimulators and 21 people who did not have Parkinson's disease. All of the participants had been driving at least once a week for more than 30 minutes within the previous three years. All were tested with a driving simulator. Those with stimulators completed the test three times: once with the stimulator on, once with it off and once with the stimulator off and after they were given the Parkinson's drug levodopa.

Looking at driving errors, the people with Parkinson's without stimulators performed worse than the control participants in every category except one, while the people with deep brain stimulators did not perform significantly worse than the controls in any category, and even performed better in the category of slight errors. Those with stimulators had an average of 3.8 slight driving errors on the test, compared to 7.5 for the controls and 11.4 for those with Parkinson's disease who did not have stimulators.

When looking at the tests of people with stimulators when they were turned on or off and off with levodopa, the driving was more accurate with stimulation on than with levodopa, with a total of 13 errors during the test on levodopa, compared to 11 with stimulation and 14 with neither treatment.

Explore further: Parkinson's patients advised to seek Deep Brain Stimulation treatment in early stages

Related Stories

Parkinson's patients advised to seek Deep Brain Stimulation treatment in early stages

February 14, 2013
People with Parkinson's disease who receive Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) therapy in the early stages of the condition will benefit from a significant increase in quality of life, a revolutionary study from The New England ...

Parkinson's brain rhythms suggest better way to treat disease with deep brain stimulation

March 4, 2013
A team of scientists and clinicians at UC San Francisco has discovered how to detect abnormal brain rhythms associated with Parkinson's by implanting electrodes within the brains of people with the disease.

New deep brain stimulation device shows promising results

January 25, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- A multi-site study of a new deep brain stimulation device for people with Parkinson’s disease has found the device to provide benefits to patients, potentially paving the way for unprecedented competition ...

Clinical trial: Intestinal gel reduces 'off' time in advanced Parkinson's disease

April 17, 2012
A levodopa-carbidopa intestinal gel (LCIG) works better than standard oral levodopa-carbidopa in reducing "off" time in patients with advanced Parkinson's disease. That's according to results of the phase three randomized, ...

In US first, Johns Hopkins surgeons implant brain 'pacemaker' for Alzheimer's disease

December 5, 2012
Researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine in November surgically implanted a pacemaker-like device into the brain of a patient in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, the first such operation in the United States. The device, ...

Recommended for you

Parkinson's is partly an autoimmune disease, study finds

June 21, 2017
Researchers have found the first direct evidence that autoimmunity—in which the immune system attacks the body's own tissues—plays a role in Parkinson's disease, the neurodegenerative movement disorder. The findings raise ...

Predicting cognitive deficits in people with Parkinson's disease

June 20, 2017
Parkinson's disease (PD) is commonly thought of as a movement disorder, but after years of living with PD approximately twenty five percent of patients also experience deficits in cognition that impair function. A newly developed ...

Pre-clinical study suggests Parkinson's could start in gut endocrine cells

June 15, 2017
Recent research on Parkinson's disease has focused on the gut-brain connection, examining patients' gut bacteria, and even how severing the vagus nerve connecting the stomach and brain might protect some people from the debilitating ...

Hi-res view of protein complex shows how it breaks up protein tangles

June 15, 2017
Misfolded proteins are the culprits behind amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and other neurodegenerative brain disorders. These distorted proteins are unable to perform their normal ...

CRISPR tech leads to new screening tool for Parkinson's disease

June 5, 2017
A team of researchers at the University of Central Florida is using breakthrough gene-editing technology to develop a new screening tool for Parkinson's disease, a debilitating degenerative disorder of the nervous system. ...

Infection with seasonal flu may increase risk of developing Parkinson's disease

May 30, 2017
Most cases of Parkinson's have no known cause, and researchers continue to debate and study possible factors that may contribute to the disease. Research reported in the journal npj Parkinson's Disease suggests that a certain ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.