-- Robert Preidt
THURSDAY, March 31 (HealthDay News) -- For people with the
movement disorder dystonia, starting deep brain stimulation therapy
early in the course of the disease provides better results,
according to a new study.
Dystonia is a potentially crippling disorder that causes muscles
to contract, resulting in involuntary twisting of affected areas of
the body. Deep brain stimulation is approved in the United States
for certain treatment-resistant dystonias.
The study included 44 patients, aged 10 to 59 years, with
generalized dystonia who received a deep brain stimulation device,
which consists of electrical leads implanted in the brain and an
electrical pulse generator placed near the collarbone. The device
controls abnormal nerve signals that cause uncontrolled muscle
contractions in people with the disorder.
After receiving the device, all of the patients experienced
overall improvement in their ability to control muscles and
movements (motor function). After one year, there were significant
improvements in all ratings of affected body regions and functions
such as speech, with the exception of three patients whose symptoms
worsened somewhat between years one and three.
Additional improvements were seen after three years, according
to the study published in the March issue of the
Journal of Neurology.
The investigators also found that patients who were over the age
of 27 years when they received the device had an additional 10
percent average improvement between years one and three. Before
receiving the device, 32 patients were taking prescription drugs,
but one year after getting the device that number fell by 52
percent, and after three years it fell by 80 percent.
"Our data suggest that patients who begin treatment earlier in the disease process may expect a better general outcome than those with longer disease duration. Also, age at surgery appears to influence the time necessary to achieve the best clinical response, meaning that older patients need more time before reaching their potential benefit," senior author Dr. Michele Tagliati, director of the Movement Disorders Program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, said in a journal news release.
Tagliati and other study authors have financial ties with
Medtronic Inc., which makes deep brain stimulation devices.
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