Effects of varying subthalamic nucleus stimulation on apraxia of lid opening in Parkinson's disease

J Neurol. 2012 Sep;259(9):1944-50. doi: 10.1007/s00415-012-6447-0. Epub 2012 Feb 17.


Apraxia of lid opening (ALO) is a non-paralytic inability to open the eyes or sustain lid elevation at will. The exact pathophysiological mechanisms underlying the syndrome are still unknown. ALO has been reported in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) after subthalamic nucleus (STN) deep brain stimulation (DBS), suggesting a possible involvement of the basal ganglia. We aimed to assess the effects of varying STN stimulation voltage on ALO in PD patients. Seven out of 14 PD patients with bilateral STN stimulation consecutively seen in our centre presented with ALO. We progressively increased voltage on each STN, using either 130 Hz (high-frequency stimulation, HFS) or 2 or 3 Hz (low-frequency stimulation, LFS). In five patients, HFS induced ALO time-locked to stimulation in 7 out of 10 STNs at a voltage higher than that used for chronic stimulation. LFS induced myoclonus in the pretarsal orbicularis oculi muscle (pOOm) with a rhythm synchronous to the frequency. In the other two patients with ALO already present at the time of the study, HFS improved ALO in 3 out of 4 STNs. ALO recurred within minutes of stimulation arrest. Our findings show that STN-DBS can have opposite effects on ALO. On the one hand, ALO is thought to be a corticobulbar side effect due to lateral current spreading from the STN, in which case it is necessary to use voltages below the ALO-inducing threshold. On the other hand, ALO may be considered a form of off-phase focal dystonia possibly improved by increasing the stimulation voltages.

MeSH terms

  • Apraxias / etiology*
  • Biophysical Phenomena / physiology
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy / methods*
  • Eyelids / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parkinson Disease / complications*
  • Parkinson Disease / therapy*
  • Subthalamic Nucleus / physiology*