A new study indicates that deep brain stimulation (DBS) may have a beneficial effect on driving ability for people with Parkinson’s disease. The study, conducted by Carsten Buhmann, MD of the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf in Hamburg, Germany, tested 65 people – 23 with deep brain stimulators, 21 people with Parkinson’s without stimulators, 21 people without Parkinson’s disease – on a driving simulator. All of the participants had been driving at least once a week for more than 30 minutes within the previous three years. Those with stimulators were given the test three times: once with the stimulator active, once with it inactive, and once with it inactive after being given levodopa.
Examining common driving errors, the study found that the group that included people with Parkinson’s without stimulators performed worse in every category except one, while the group that included people with active stimulators actually performed better in the slight driving errors category.
When looking at the tests of people with stimulators when they were turned on or off and off with levodopa, the study indicated that driving was more accurate with active stimulators than with levodopa, with a total of 13 errors during the test on levodopa, compared to 11 with stimulation and 14 with neither treatment.
The study was published in the December 18, 2013 edition of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
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Date originally posted: December 19, 2013.