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December 1, 2020

Exciting Strides Forward for Parkinson’s Disease

by Melita Petrossian

“But there isn’t anything I can do about it, right, Doc?”

I get asked this question by my Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients all the time. There’s a perception that because there isn’t a cure for PD, that means there’s no treatment, no way to improve symptoms, no way to improve quality of life. This is absolutely WRONG – there’s always more we can do!

Stay Active

For Parkinson’s Disease, lifestyle measures such as exercise and diet play a huge role in quality of life. Even when the gyms are closed, there are classes through Zoom, YouTube videos, and ways to use simple equipment to get a good workout at home.

FDA Approved Medications for Parkinson’s Disease

Beyond that, there have been NINE new FDA approved medications for the treatment of Parkinson’s Disease symptoms just in the past six years! These medications include Nourianz, Inbrija, and Kynmobi, which are used when response to carbidopa/levodopa becomes erratic and patients experience “off” time (time when the medications aren’t working). Some of the medications, including Nuplazid and Northera, are used for non-motor symptoms of PD such as hallucinations and blood pressure drops.

Deep Brain Stimulation For Parkinson’s Disease

Many patients with PD may be good candidates for deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgery, which is a way to reduce “off” time, increase the amount of time the medication is working (“on” time), reduce tremor, and reduce dyskinesias (involuntary movements related to treatment). DBS is like a pacemaker for the brain.

DBS is not new – it’s been FDA approved since 1997 – but there have been new advances in DBS technology that are exciting. DBS batteries are now thinner and smaller, so they’re less prominent when implanted. Rechargeable DBS batteries can last up to 15 years before needing replacement. And finally, we’re now able to sense the signals of the brain itself using Medtronic’s BrainSense technology, which will help guide more accurate stimulation.

>>WATCH DBS VIDEO with Dr. JP Langevin

Percept™ PC Neurostimulator with BrainSense™ Technology

DBS should not be considered as a last resort treatment. Earlier DBS implantation can be very beneficial and is more effective for management of motor symptoms. It can represent a window of opportunity for patients to take advantage of DBS technology.

Percept™ PC Neurostimulator with BrainSense™ technology detects patient-specific brain signals and provides feedback to optimize therapy for patients with Parkinson’s disease. Benefits include improvements in tremors, rigidity, slowness of movement and overall quality of life.


Care at Pacific Movement Disorders Center

At the Pacific Movement Disorders Center, our movement disorders neurology and restorative neurosurgery specialists provide DBS expertise and experience. The first in Providence health system to use Percept™ PC with BrainSense™ technology, this breakthrough in monitoring and treatment can be considered for patients who have dyskinesias from PD medications, or who have uncontrolled tremor despite medications in their current treatment regimen. This DBS system is available for new patients as well as for updating to older implanted DBS systems.

For information from our movement disorders neurology and restorative neurosurgery team about Parkinson’s disease medical treatment options or DBS, please call 310-582-7433.

About the Author

Melita Petrossian, MD

Melita Petrossian

Melita Petrossian, MD, is Director of Pacific Movement Disorders Center and is a fellowship-trained neurologist with clinical interests and expertise in movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor, dystonia, gait disorders, ataxia, myoclonus, blepharospasm, hemifacial spasm, Meige syndrome, spasticity, tics, and Tourette’s syndrome. She also specializes in Parkinson’s-related conditions such as Dementia with Lewy Bodies, progressive supranuclear palsy, multiple system atrophy, corticobasal degeneration, primary freezing of gait, and Parkinson’s disease dementia.

Last updated: December 1st, 2020