Dystonia-choreoathetosis affects approximately 10 percent of all cerebral palsy patients and it is notoriously difficult to treat. However, a new study by French researchers shows promise for treating this form of cerebral palsy.
Using what is known as bilateral pallidal deep brain stimulation (BP-DBS), researchers were able to improve motor symptoms in 8 out of 13 cerebral palsy patients who participated in the trial. Improvement in motor functioning was based on a movement rating scale and ranged from 21 to 55 percent, with an average of 24.4 percent. The researchers also found that the deep brain stimulation helped to reduce pain.
Deep brain stimulation involves the use of an implantable device that operates similar to a pacemaker. Whereas a pacemaker uses electrical currents to help regulate heartbeat, deep brain stimulation uses electrical impulses to help the brain control movement in the body.
Although the initial results are promising, researchers made sure to point out that the study was small and additional research is necessary – particularly with regard to treating cerebral palsy symptoms in children.