To address this, some treatment plans for Parkinson’s patients include DBS, a type of surgical treatment in which a small metal wire is placed inside the brain and used to send electrical pulses to targeted areas. This type of treatment can effectively treat tremors, but has shown to be less effective in treating symptoms such as walking difficulties.
But doctors and researchers have long-hypothesized that stimulating more targeted neurons in the brain, such as those located in the pedunculopontine nucleus (PPN), might more effectively alleviate walking difficulties in Parkinson’s patients.
The findings from the University of Copenhagen animal study lend this hypothesis credence.
The study found that when specific neurons in the PPN were stimulated in animals with symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, such as walking difficulties, the animals were able to walk normally for longer distances compared to before the stimulation. This led researchers to conclude that “these excitatory neurons in the caudal PPN are an ideal target for recovery of movement loss.”
Researchers at the University of Copenhagen hope that their findings will help guide physicians in more effectively targeting DBS treatment in their own Parkinson’s patients struggling with the debilitating locomotive effects of the disease.
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