, Volume 205, Issue 4, pp 435-443
Date: 10 Aug 2010

Effects of five years of chronic STN stimulation on muscle strength and movement speed

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This study examined the long-term effects of chronic subthalamic nucleus (STN) deep brain stimulation (DBS) using both clinical evaluation and laboratory motor control measures. Over a 5-year time period, changes in the motor section of the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) and movement speed and strength at the ankle joint were evaluated on and off STN DBS in eight patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD). Four patients were also studied at the elbow joint. Patients with PD originally received unilateral STN DBS between years 2001 and 2003. They were re-evaluated after 5 years of long-term STN DBS between years 2006–2008. At baseline (year 0) and after 5 years, patients with PD were tested off treatment and on STN DBS. In each testing condition, patients performed ballistic, single degree of freedom ankle dorsiflexion and ankle plantarflexion movements and peak velocity was calculated. Patients also performed maximal voluntary contractions at the ankle joint in both directions, and peak torque was calculated. Results showed increased motor UPDRS scores from year 0 to year 5, but STN DBS was efficacious in reducing them. In contrast to the increase in motor UPDRS scores, motor control results showed a marked improvement in peak velocity and peak torque over the 5-year time period in the off treatment condition, and STN DBS was efficacious by improving both peak velocity and peak torque. The current findings suggest that 5 years of chronic STN DBS can have beneficial effects on the motor system over the long term in discrete motor tasks in which maximal effort and maximal neural output is required.