Patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) who exercise on a stationary tandem bicycle with a healthy partner during a single 40-minute session experience a 35% improvement in motor function and increased brain activation similar to that found with levodopa treatment, new research shows.
The study, by researchers at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, found that maintaining a steady rate of 80 to 90 revolutions per minute (rpm) on the bicycle not only improved function in lower extremities but also in upper extremities.
I don’t want to reprint the entire article, but this quote resonated for me:
The researchers surmise that the exercise may facilitate central motor control processes in Parkinson’s patients. “For lack of a better word, we may be ‘overdriving’ the central nervous system by providing an increase in the quantity and quality of sensory information provided to the patient,” said Dr. Alberts.
This is really quite something to behold: A DBS lead with electrodes small enough to potentially stimulate individual neurons. The genius lies in applying the technology used in semiconductor chip design to create a lead with many tiny electrodes that can then be activated and controlled with an extraordinary level of precision.
What a terrific article, on the Daily Kos web site. He even answers right up top the unasked question I’ve had for so long: Do you need a catheter, and how exactly is that bit of work performed?
The public relations team at St. Jude Medical is keeping busy. A press release this week announced that all of the 136 participants in its DBS device trial had received their implants. The release wasn’t clear about the expected length of the trial or what exactly the trial is designed to demonstrate.
In Ireland, the system simply sends you across the channel. Why? Finite capacity in the prescribed ranks of neurosurgeons, no doubt.
Deep brain stimulation surgery is quickly becoming the hot new treatment for an ever-widening array of ailments. Initially approved for treatment of motion disorders such as essential tremor and Parkinson’s disease, it was exciting to see the technology applied to other problems, such as epilepsy. Discussion then turned to using DBS for obsessive-compulsive disorder. Since then, we’ve seen the buzz building around DBS for depression. Humanitarian exemptions have been granted for DBS to treat severe Tourette’s.
Another entry in this ongoing theme that is too good to pass up: An article on the CNN web site profiles people who embraced the triathlon lifestyle as an alternative to blowing their brains out on drugs. Works for me! (I don’t train specifically for triathlons, but I do work at a similar intensity level.)
I guess it would take something extraordinary to blast me out of my extraordinary demotivation when it comes to writing. But this interview did it. Not so much the Michael J. Fox bit — although he is an incredible person — but the golfer he played with at this event.
Tim Simpson is a pro golfer who had to put his clubs away because of his inherited tremor — and who got his game back after having DBS surgery. His account of having the surgery is truly inspiring to someone like me, who is thinking seriously about having the surgery, possibly as soon as later this year.
Thank you Tim, and Michael. It’s time for me to get back on the cart and get serious about this aspect of my life. I’m headed to NYC this week to interview a DBS neurosurgery team. I’m looking forward to it, with much excitement and a bit of dread.
For older people, and especially those with Parkinson’s, a fall-related injury is the first event in a chain that leads to ever-worsening problems. I’d say it’s probably the best indicator of how advanced a person’s progression is: the cane, the walker, the wheelchair, and the ability to negotiate even a door jamb or threshold.
Although our cohort recognized that their probability of falling was substantial, they lacked awareness of specific risk
factors for falling, particularly those associated with medication use. This was a surprising finding, considering that the participants enrolled in this study were taking numerous medications, and many of those medications are known to increase risk for falling. The fact that these individuals attended a movement disorder clinic led us to hypothesize that
their awareness of all risk factors would have been much higher.
Maybe it’s simple denial, a willful whistle past the graveyard, or maybe there’s some pathological blind spot that leaves those of us with PD in ignorance of even the obvious. Hopefully our friends and partners are more aware of these problems, and are willing to look out for us.