Electrical stimulation of the dorsal columns of the spinal cord for Parkinson's disease

Mov Disord. 2017 Jun;32(6):820-832. doi: 10.1002/mds.27033. Epub 2017 May 12.


Spinal cord stimulation has been used for the treatment of chronic pain for decades. In 2009, our laboratory proposed, based on studies in rodents, that electrical stimulation of the dorsal columns of the spinal cord could become an effective treatment for motor symptoms associated with Parkinson's disease (PD). Since our initial report in rodents and a more recent study in primates, several clinical studies have now described beneficial effects of dorsal column stimulation in parkinsonian patients. In primates, we have shown that dorsal column stimulation activates multiple structures along the somatosensory pathway and desynchronizes the pathological cortico-striatal oscillations responsible for the manifestation of PD symptoms. Based on recent evidence, we argue that neurological disorders such as PD can be broadly classified as diseases emerging from abnormal neuronal timing, leading to pathological brain states, and that the spinal cord could be used as a "channel" to transmit therapeutic electrical signals to disrupt these abnormalities. © 2017 International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society.

Keywords: Parkinson's disease; deep brain stimulation; dopamine; neuronal oscillations; spinal cord stimulation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Parkinson Disease / therapy*
  • Spinal Cord Dorsal Horn*
  • Spinal Cord Stimulation / methods*