Marios Politis: Deep Brain Stimulation to Treat Parkinson’s Disease

Professor Marios Politis has conducted extensive research into the use of molecular, functional and structural imaging as a method of investigating aetiology, pathophysiology and complications and effects of novel therapies in neurodegenerative disorders. This article will look at recent clinical trials underway at Southmead Hospital in Bristol, involving the use of deep brain stimulation to treat Parkinson’s disease.

The trial of a new, miniaturized deep brain stimulation (DBS) device aims to make improvements to existing surgery. The study will trial the new device to see whether it can simplify and shorten surgery, potentially paving the way for more people with Parkinson’s disease to receive this groundbreaking new treatment.

Deep brain stimulation is a type of surgery that has increasingly entered the mainstream in terms of Parkinson’s treatment. It has been shown to improve movement symptoms through the delivery of electrical impulses targeted to specific areas deep within the brain.

For many people with Parkinson’s disease, deep brain stimulation has given them better control of motor symptoms like tremors, involuntary movements and speed of movement. However, deep brain stimulation cannot stop or slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease.

Despite the fact that many people benefit from the procedure, it is not suitable for all people with the condition. As with any type of treatment, there are risks and potential complications. However, this new study aims to reduce the risk of complications – along with the costs involved with the procedure – through development of a new type of device.

The trial at North Bristol NHS Trust involves up to 25 patients, who will have surgery to implant the new system, followed by assessments over a one-year period. The Bristol team recently shared the story of the first participant to undergo this revolutionary procedure, which involved the development and deployment of the world’s smallest deep brain stimulation device.

In addition to Parkinson’s disease, deep brain stimulation is used to treat a variety of other conditions including epilepsy, dystonia, essential tremor and obsessive-compulsive disorder. It is also being studied as a potential treatment for chorea, Huntington’s disease, cluster headaches, chronic pain and Tourette syndrome.

It is hoped that the new system being trialled at North Bristol NHS Trust will make the process of implanting a deep brain stimulation device quicker and easier, enabling more people to benefit from the procedure without reducing the beneficial effects of this groundbreaking new therapy.

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