How Does Deep Brain Stimulation Change the Course of Parkinson's Disease?

Mov Disord. 2022 Aug;37(8):1581-1592. doi: 10.1002/mds.29052. Epub 2022 May 12.


A robust body of evidence from randomized controlled trials has established the efficacy of deep brain stimulation (DBS) in reducing off time and dyskinesias in levodopa-treated patients with Parkinson's disease (PD). These effects go along with improvements in on period motor function, activities of daily living, and quality of life. In addition, subthalamic DBS is effective in controlling drug-refractory PD tremor. Here, we review the available data from long-term observational and controlled follow-up studies in DBS-treated patients to re-examine the persistence of motor and quality of life benefits and evaluate the effects on disease progression, major disability milestones, and survival. Although there is consistent evidence from observational follow-up studies in DBS-treated patients over 5-10 years and beyond showing sustained improvement of motor control, the long-term impact of DBS on overall progression of disability in PD is less clear. Whether DBS reduces or delays the development of later motor and non-motor disability milestones in comparison to best medical management strategies is difficult to answer by uncontrolled observational follow-up, but there are signals from controlled long-term observational studies suggesting that subthalamic DBS may delay some of the late-stage disability milestones including psychosis, falls, and institutionalization, and also slightly prolongs survival compared with matched medically managed patients. These observations could be attributable to the sustained improvements in motor function and reduction in medication-induced side effects, whereas there is no clinical evidence of direct effects of DBS on the underlying disease progression. © 2022 The Authors. Movement Disorders published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society.

Keywords: disease-modification; disease-modifying; mortality; neuroprotection; nursing home placement.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Deep Brain Stimulation*
  • Disease Progression
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Parkinson Disease* / therapy
  • Quality of Life
  • Treatment Outcome