The research discusses a unique neuromodulation method for improving gait in patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) and other neurological conditions. Gait abnormalities, such as shorter steps and postural instability, are common in PD patients and significantly impact their quality of life. The researchers from Japan conducted a study using a novel approach called gait-combined closed-loop transcranial electrical stimulation to address these issues.
The study involved twenty-three patients with PD or Parkinson’s syndrome. These participants were randomly assigned to receive either the active treatment or a sham treatment that mimicked the active treatment but had no therapeutic effect. The active treatment involved applying a low current transcranial electrical stimulation (tES) to the cerebellum, a region of the brain known to play a role in gait control.
During the treatment, an electrode with a low current was placed on the occipital region of the head, and a reference electrode was placed on the neck to complete the electrical circuit. The therapy targeted the cerebellum on the brain side most affected by gait issues. The researchers observed encouraging results after only ten repetitions of this treatment. The group receiving the active treatment showed significant improvements in various gait parameters, including speed, gait symmetry, and stride length.
Notably, the study reported that no patients dropped out during the trial, and both the treatment and sham groups demonstrated good compliance. Furthermore, no significant side effects like skin irritation, vertigo, or unusual sensations were observed in any of the patients.
The findings of this study hold promise for improving gait-related abnormalities in patients with Parkinson’s disease and other neurological conditions. The use of transcranial electrical stimulation targeting the cerebellum provides a non-pharmacological approach that has shown positive results in enhancing gait parameters. This research has the potential to offer new hope and improved quality of life for individuals with Parkinson’s disease, particularly considering the increasing elderly population in countries like Japan.
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