DBS for Parkinsons: Current scientific and clinical status

DBS for Parkinsons: Current scientific and clinical status


There is currently no cure for Parkinson disease (PD). Disease management is directed primarily at motor symptom relief, but the impact of non-motor symptoms associated with PD should not be underestimated. Medical and surgical treatment options aim to increase functional independence and quality of life.

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) has proven to be a safe, effective and cost-efficient surgical treatment option. In 2009, the Australian referral guidelines, developed to provide a synopsis of DBS therapy for PD, were introduced, and since then novel findings have been reported regarding the timing of intervention, target selection and symptom management. Our aim is to provide an update of DBS for PD in Australia. Intervention at earlier stages of the disease can potentially improve quality of life over a longer period with greater possibilities for meaningful social and professional contributions. For less responsive motor symptoms (e.g. freezing of gait, postural instability), the pedunculo-pontine nucleus has emerged as a promising new surgical target.

Traditional PD treatment is focused on improvement of motor symptoms, but the disorder is also characterised by non-motor symptoms, often undiagnosed or undisclosed, that have the potential to impact quality of life to a greater extent than motor symptoms. It is essential to identify and routinely monitor for non-motor symptoms as they can emerge at all stages of the disease or can result from treatment. Many of these current advances require long-term monitoring of treatment outcomes to improve future clinical practice, refine patient selection and ensure best patient outcomes.

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