For people with Parkinson's disease, deep brain stimulation may have a beneficial effect on driving ability.
This is according to a new study published in the December 18, 2013, online issue of Neurology¬ģ, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Deep brain stimulation uses a surgical implant similar to a pacemaker to send electrical impulses to the brain.
"Up until now, we weren't sure how deep brain stimulation would affect driving," said study author Carsten Buhmann, MD, of University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf in Hamburg, Germany. "On the one hand, it might enhance driving ability by improving the motor problems which occur with Parkinson's disease, but on the other hand, it might hamper driving because it potentially causes a decline in executive cognitive skills."
Looking at driving errors, the people with Parkinson's without stimulators performed worse than the control participants in every category except one, while the people with deep brain stimulators did not perform significantly worse than the controls in any category, and even performed better in the category of slight errors. Those with stimulators had an average of 3.8 slight driving errors on the test, compared to 7.5 for the controls and 11.4 for those with Parkinson's disease who did not have stimulators.
When looking at the tests of people with stimulators when they were turned on or off and off with levodopa, the driving was more accurate with stimulation on 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 supported by the Georg & J√ľrgen Rickertsen Foundation in Hamburg.
The American Academy of Neurology, an association of more than 26,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as Alzheimer's disease, stroke, migraine, multiple sclerosis, brain injury, Parkinson's disease and epilepsy.