A magnetic stimulation therapy for five sessions a week can help people afflicted with Parkinson's disease (PD) walk, new research has found.
About 50 percent of patients with Parkinson's disease experience freezing of gait (FOG), an inability to move forward while walking.
Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) can reduce FOG and improve other motor skills in PD patients, the findings showed.
"This study demonstrated that five cumulative sessions a week of 10 Hz (hertz) high-frequency rTMS was likely to alleviate FOG in patients with PD, and the effect continued for a week. Similar results were found in the motor and the gait function," explained lead investigator Yun-Hee Kim, professor at Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, South Korea.
"This study provides evidence that the cumulative high-frequency rTMS is a good candidate as an add-on therapy for FOG in PD," Kim noted.
In the study, 17 PD patients experiencing FOG were treated with either real or sham high-frequency rTMS in five sessions over a one-week period.
After a two-week interval, the patients in both groups were switched to the other treatment.
Patients were assessed at three times: at the beginning of the study before stimulation began, immediately after the intervention, and one week after cessation of the intervention.
All medications were kept constant throughout the study and all interventions were performed at the same time of day.
Both the researchers and the patients were not informed whether real or sham treatment was being administered.
The researchers found that those undergoing the real stimulation treatment showed significant improvement.
The study was published in the journal Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience.