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Parkinson's Research Now: What Should You Know About DBS and ICDs?

What do the latest science headlines mean for your life with Parkinson's? In this issue, PDF's team answers – focusing on two key issues: deep brain stimulation and impulse control disorders.

DBS: Where and When?

Who should undergo deep brain stimulation (DBS) for Parkinson's disease and when is the right time to do so? Two studies provide answers that could guide doctors and people with Parkinson's in making these decisions.

First, a study led by Günther Deuschl, M.D., Ph.D., and published online on February 13 in The New England Journal of Medicine suggests that DBS may be helpful as a treatment in earlier stages of PD than previously thought. Meanwhile, a new study led by Rob M.A. de Bie, M.D., published in the January 2013 issue of The Lancet Neurology continues the controversy over whether the most commonly used DBS brain target, the STN, may be superior to another, less commonly-used target for people with Parkinson's.

Read Dr. Deuschl's Study
Read Dr. de Bie's Study


ICDs: What Causes Them and Who's at Risk?

Have you or a loved one with Parkinson's disease experienced an impulse control disorder (ICD)? Two recent studies may help us to understand and prevent these troubling side effects, which include compulsive eating, gambling, shopping and sexual activity.

First, a team led by Daniel Weintraub, M.D., published a study in the January 8 issue of Neurology finding that Parkinson's disease itself does not increase a person's risk of ICDs. This finding suggests that something else, likely medications, may be responsible for doing so. Meanwhile, a team funded in part by PDF and led by Melissa Nirenberg, M.D., Ph.D., published a study in the January 2 issue of Movement Disorders, in which they suggest that the frequency of ICDs is much greater than expected. Both studies emphasize the importance of identifying risk factors to help doctors recognize or prevent ICDs in people living with PD.

Both Drs. Weintraub and Nirenberg spoke at a PDF-funded conference this past fall that focused on generating a strategic research plan for tackling ICDs in PD. PDF will keep you informed of additional updates about this key issue.

Read Dr. Weintraub's Study
Read Dr. Nirenberg's Study


More Science News & Your Questions

There have been many interesting studies published since our last update in October. I urge you to browse our science news to read about additional research. If you have any additional questions about these reports, please feel free to call PDF’s HelpLine at (800) 457-6676 or email us at
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Jim Beck Signature

Dr. James Beck
Director of Research Programs

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If you have or believe you have Parkinson’s disease, then promptly consult a physician and follow your physician’s advice. This email is not a substitute for a physician’s diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease or for a physician’s prescription of drugs, treatment or operations for Parkinson’s.