Spinal Cord Stimulation for Parkinson’s

Current Parkinson’s medications do not adequately address several of the primary symptoms of the disease, particularly issues that patients have when walking. Currently, the electrodes used to stimulate the spine in spinal cord injury patients is being considered as a potential treatment to reduce walking issues for patients with Parkinson’s. The device looks similar to a pacemaker, and it sends electrical pulses along the spine. It is thought, this will help Parkinson’s patients to walk without freezing up or having a stumbling gait or other movement issues. This is comparable to the deep brain stimulation surgery currently performed on these patients. However, deep brain stimulation does not fully address walking issues, nor are all Parkinson’s patients potential candidates for the surgery.

It is hoped that the spinal cord stimulation will provide more relief for more Parkinson’s patients. Currently, the treatment is FDA approved to help manage chronic pain. Based on a 2018 study at the University of Western Ontario, Canada, five men with advanced Parkinson’s took part in a six-month program using spinal cord stimulation. All five men saw reduced problems when walking. Further studies are being conducted, so far with consistent results in gait improvement.

More details are provided in the Michael J. Fox Foundation article Spinal Cord Stimulation for Parkinson’s.