Helping Parkinson's patients drive

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A new study shows that deep brain stimulation may help with driving for people with Parkinson's disease. Deep brain stimulation sends electrical impulses to the brain using a surgical implant similar to a pace maker.

The study at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf in Hamburg, Germany involved 23 people who had deep brain stimulators, 21 people with Parkinson's disease who did not have stimulators and 21 people who did not have Parkinson's disease. During the study, the participants were all tested with a driving simulator. Each person completed the test three times: first with the brain stimulator on, then with it off, and finally with the stimulator off and after taking the Parkinson's drug levodopa.

The results showed that the people with stimulators off performed worse than the control participants in every category except one. Those with stimulators on did not perform significantly worse than the control group. Driving was also more accurate with stimulation on for those taking levodopa.

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