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Bilateral subthalamic nucleus deep brain stimulation improves certain aspects of postural control in Parkinson's disease, whereas medication does not



Postural control requires precise integration of sensory inputs and motor output, but clinical assessments of postural control do not differentiate between these. Previously, we found that this differentiation is important in Parkinson's disease (PD) as there was a dissociated effect of medication versus pallidotomy on sensory aspects of postural instability. In this study, we address several questions that emerged from that work in 28 different patients with PD off and on medication, before and after bilateral subthalamic nucleus deep brain stimulation (B-STN DBS): (1) In a different cohort is there still an unusually large percentage of patients with postural instability in sensory-deprived conditions? (2) Are more specific measures of motor aspects of postural control using dynamic posturography (postural movement velocity [MV] and reaction time [RT]) abnormal in PD as seen clinically using the Postural Instability and Gait Disorder score of the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale? (3) What is the effect of B-STN DBS versus medication on sensory versus motor aspects of postural instability in PD? The results included (1) substantially more patients (39%) versus controls (5%) exhibited postural instability in conditions of limited sensory feedback; (2) postural MV and postural RT were abnormal off medication preoperatively (Nsubset = 23; P < 0.001 for both); (3) B-STN DBS improved abnormal sensory aspects of postural instability (P < 0.05) and postural MV (P = 0.005), whereas medication did not. Neither B-STN DBS nor medication improved postural RT. For the group as a whole, STN DBS plus medication was better therapy than medication preoperatively for sensory aspects of postural control (P = 0.003). © 2006 Movement Disorder Society