AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 29, Number 2, 2020


Transcranial Stimulation and/or Physical Therapy Improves Walking Speed in Parkinson’s Disease

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Noninvasive brain stimulation and physical therapy — alone or in combination — improve some measures of walking ability in patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD), concludes a clinical trial. Transcranial direct current stimulation and physical therapy “could be used alone or together as a combination treatment protocol to improve walking speed and step length among patients with PD,” according to the study by Krisna Piravej, MD, and colleagues of King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital, Bangkok, Thailand. In addition to showing a benefit of brain stimulation, the results suggest that physical therapy has benefits beyond symptom relief for patients with PD. The study included 60 patients, average age 65, with slow walking speed due to stage 2 or 3 PD. Patients were randomly assigned to three groups. One group received a noninvasive brain stimulation technique called transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). This procedure delivers a mild electrical current through the brain, with the goal of stimulating neural networks involved in motor coordination. Patients received a total of six 30-minute tDCS sessions over two weeks.

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