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Although not a cure, electrical stimulation deep within the brain can reduce some of the most disabling symptoms of Parkinson’s disease such as tremor, rigidity, stiffness and walking problems. Helen Cowan interviews consultant neurologist Dr Binith Cheeran from Oxford University about this procedure.

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Q: Who could benefit from Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS)?

A: Previously, only people with more severe Parkinson’s were offered DBS. However, DBS is now being used in people who have had Parkinson’s for more than four years and have just started to experience fluctuations in the control of their symptoms despite taking medication.

It is hoped that DBS will better control symptoms in these patients, enabling them to maintain friendships, social interaction, employment and activity, giving them better quality of life. DBS is also used to treat other diseases causing tremor, muscle spasms and contractions. It is being evaluated as a treatment for some forms of epilepsy and Tourette’s.

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