Future of DBS therapy: personalizing stimulation to target and treat symptoms

By Anna Shavers

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) for the treatment of motor symptoms for Parkinson’s disease (PD) has been approved by the FDA for almost 25 years. Standard DBS sends continuous stimulation to targeted areas of the brain to reduce motor symptoms such as tremors for patients with PD.

Michael S. Okun, M.D., director of the Norman Fixel Institute for Neurological Diseases at UF Health, recently led a study comparing the effectiveness of a novel DBS pattern called Temporally Optimized Patterned Stimulation (TOPS) with the standard DBS pattern for patients with PD.

Using three different patterns of stimulation (two versions of TOPS and the standard stimulation), researchers followed twenty-six participants with previously implanted DBS devices. Participants received the three different stimulations over approximately five weeks.

Participants experienced similar side effects from both TOPS and standard stimulation, but side effects with TOPS were well tolerated by most participants. TOPS also showed to be as effective or more effective as standard stimulation at reducing motor symptoms of PD.

“Based on our findings, we believe TOPS will pave the way for more research into how specific stimulation patterns can be used to target neurological symptoms which are disabling to an individual. We are truly moving toward a personalized future for DBS therapy,” Dr. Okun said.

Read the paper in the journal Frontiers.