Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a neural degenerative disorder. It results from a progressive loss of dopamine secreting cells. This affects the nigrostriatal tract.

Parkinson’s Symptoms

Parkinson’s disease has a collection of symptoms including:

  • tremors
  • rigidity
  • reduced or decreased movement
  • impaired gait or ability to walk

Parkinson’s Disease Treatment

Once the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease is made the initial treatment is medical. This is done under the supervision of a movement disorder neurologist along with supportive medical therapy.

Deep Brain Stimulation For Parkinson’s Disease

Deep brain simulation surgery is a method of treatment for Parkinson’s disease. It provides safe and effective control of the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. It can also help reduce the medication requirements by up to 50 to 70%. The candidates for such therapy are carefully chosen. Most commonly this includes:

  • patients who have moderate to severe Parkinson’s disease and whose symptoms are progressively worsening or are medically unmanageable
  • patients who have wide motor fluctuations whilst on medical therapy
  • patients with an intolerance or who are developing adverse effects from medical therapy

There are several sites in the brain which are targets for deep brain stimulation in Parkinson’s disease. The main site is the subthalamic nucleus. Other sites may be chosen depending on whether some symptoms are more pronounced and troublesome than the others. These include the thalamus, the posterior subthalamic area or the pedunculopontine nucleus.

DBS therapy provides effective control of symptoms and improved quality of life over a medium to long term. However, it is important to understand that it does not slow the progression of the neurodegenerative disease.

Research and advances in treatment for Parkinson’s disease

Mr Nair is the neurosurgeon who leads a pioneering team at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. This team have been performing ground breaking research in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

Under his leadership the surgical team performed the world’s first ever implantation of stem cells as part of a clinical trial. Together the team are trying to develop alternative and more effective treatment for Parkinson’s disease.

As of now, the stem cell therapy is not a mainstream treatment option for Parkinson’s disease. The current status is that it is in a phase one trial. Previous research studies have been conducted in primates. The results have been extremely promising offering hope to patients and doctors.

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To make an appointment with one of our neurosurgeons, please call 03 9329 4761.

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