|제목||How applying electric currents to the scalp takes us one step closer to fighting Parkinson’s disease|
|summary||New study finds out whether treating Parkinson’s disease by electrical stimulation is a good option|
|prof.||체육학부 강년주 교수님|
How applying electric currents to the scalp takes us one step closer to fighting Parkinson’s disease
New study finds out whether treating Parkinson’s disease by electrical stimulation is a good option
Parkinson’s disease causes patients to lose control over their own body, severely affecting their quality of lives. Scientists at Incheon National University conduct a detailed analysis of the short- and long-term effects of treating Parkinson’s disease by stimulating the brain with weak external currents.
Applying weak electric currents to the scalp through surface electrodes could be a cheap, safe, and convenient way of alleviating the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disease that causes various motor complications, like inability to maintain posture, trembling hands, and difficulty in walking—greatly affecting the quality of life of patients. Because there is currently no cure, it is important to focus on treatments that can alleviate symptoms and improve the lives of those affected. One such non-invasive treatment, called transcranial direct-current stimulation (tDCS), involves delivering small currents to the surface of the scalp via electrodes. This is based on the fact that in PD, brain cells (or neurons) have trouble producing dopamine, a chemical vital to brain communication and motor tasks. tDCS helps to re-organize brain cell activity and positively affects the connectivity of specific regions of the brain while stimulating dopamine production. This, in turn, seems to provide temporary relief to PD patients.
But, these findings are scattered across many different studies with several discrepancies in the type of electrical stimulation used, targeted brain regions, and the way in which motor improvements were measured. To tie these results together and to objectively assess the effectiveness of tDCS, a group of researchers from Incheon National University in Korea, led by Dr. Nyeonju Kang, published a systematic review in Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation.
Dr. Kang and his team first screened the existing scientific literature with an appropriate quantitative methodology that helped them to compare the effect of tDCS on patients’ locomotion. In particular, the researchers were interested to know the short-term and long-term benefits of tDCS and if simultaneously stimulating multiple brain regions yielded better results. Dr. Kang explains, “We investigated tDCS, which is one of the most non-invasive brain stimulation techniques, for PD motor recovery. This intervention is an attractive rehabilitation option because of its practical advantages like economic efficiency, portability, and accessibility.”
After thoroughly analyzing multiple studies that used tDCS protocols, the findings were clear: the scientists confirmed that tDCS interventions indeed offer short-term (<24 hours) benefits for functional locomotion in patients with PD. The researchers even found that the short-term benefits were more notable when multiple areas of the brain were targeted. Dr. Kang remarks, “These findings provide important clinical implications to researchers and clinicians in the utility of tDCS as a potential treatment. Because tDCS treatment is cheaper, safer, and simpler than surgical or medication-based treatments, finding optimal tDCS protocols could be a great way to improve the lives of people with PD.”
Although the scientists did not find any long-term benefits of tDCS, temporarily easing the symptoms of PD can help patients to lead normal lives. This study is indeed a nudge in the right direction for scientists working to find treatment options for PD!
Hyo Keun Lee1,2, Se Ji Ahn1, Yang Mi Shin1, Nyeonju Kang1,3* and James H. Cauraugh4
Title of original paper:
Does transcranial direct current stimulation improve functional locomotion in people with Parkinson’s disease? A systematic review and meta-analysis
Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation
of Sport Science, Neuromechanical Rehabilitation Research
2Vector Biomechanics Inc.
3Sport Science Institute, Incheon National University
4Department of Applied Physiology and Kinesiology, University of Florida
*Corresponding author’s email: firstname.lastname@example.org
About Incheon National University
Incheon National University (INU) is a comprehensive, student-focused university. It was founded in 1979 and given university status in 1988. One of the largest universities in South Korea, it houses nearly 14,000 students and 500 faculty members. In 2010, INU merged with Incheon City College to expand capacity and open more curricula. With its commitment to academic excellence and an unrelenting devotion to innovative research, INU offers its students real-world internship experiences. INU not only focuses on studying and learning but also strives to provide a supportive environment for students to follow their passion, grow, and, as their slogan says, be INspired.
About the author
Dr. Nyeonju Kang received his Ph.D. from the College of Health and Human Performance at the University of Florida in 2015 under the mentorship of Dr. James H. Cauraugh. He joined the Laboratory for Rehabilitation and Neuroscience at the University of Florida for his postdoctoral fellowship with co-mentors, Drs. David Vaillancourt and Christou Evangelos. He was appointed as an Assistant Professor at the Division of Sport Science, Incheon National University, Korea, in 2017 and founded the Neuromechanical Rehabilitation Research Laboratory. His current research focuses on neurorehabilitation of stroke and aging population using isometric force control paradigms, motor unit physiology, non-invasive brain stimulation, and meta-analysis, supported by National Research Foundation, Korea.
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