Symptoms of Parkinson's Alleviated by Low-Frequency Stimulation

Pharmacy Times, March 2015 Central Nervous System, Volume 81, Issue 3

A recent study examining the therapeutic benefits of deep brain stimulation in treating Parkinson's symptoms has deemed lowfrequency stimulation to be superior to high-frequency stimulation in improving patients' swallowing dysfunction and freezing of gait.

A recent study examining the therapeutic benefits of deep brain stimulation (DBS) in treating Parkinson’s symptoms has deemed lowfrequency (LF) stimulation to be superior to high-frequency (HF) stimulation in improving patients’ swallowing dysfunction and freezing of gait.

DBS, in which a “brain pacemaker” sends electric impulses to specific brain areas, normally uses an HF 130-Hz impulse to alleviate Parkinson’s symptoms, although this has proved largely ineffective at improving swallowing difficulties or freezing of gait.

The study, published online December 24, 2014, in Neurology, set out to determine if these symptoms could be better treated with a lower frequency. To do so, the research team administered 60 Hz, 130 Hz, or no stimulation to 7 patients in 2 different sessions separated by 6 weeks.

The researchers found that patients treated with 60 Hz experienced a 57% reduction in airway aspiration issues, an 80% reduction in swallowing difficulty, and significantly reduced freezing of gait and axial symptoms, compared with patients treated with 130 Hz. The patients treated with 60 Hz continued this therapy for 6 weeks, during which their symptoms maintained a reduced severity.

“This is the first study to successfully treat swallowing dysfunction, and one of the first to treat difficulty with gait, using this unusual low-frequency 60-Hz stimulation,” said study author Tao Xie, MD, PhD.