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Eur J Paediatr Neurol. 2012 Sep;16(5):501-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ejpn.2011.12.014. Epub 2012 Jan 17.

Beyond the Burke-Fahn-Marsden Dystonia Rating Scale: deep brain stimulation in childhood secondary dystonia.

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  • 1Complex Motor Disorders Service, Evelina Children's Hospital, Guy's & St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK. hortensia.gimeno@gstt.nhs.uk



Deep brain stimulation is now widely accepted as an effective treatment for children with primary generalized dystonia. More variable results are reported in secondary dystonias and its efficacy in this heterogeneous group has not been fully elucidated. Deep brain stimulation outcomes are typically reported using impairment-focused measures, such as the Burke-Fahn-Marsden Dystonia Rating Scale, which provide little information about function and participation outcomes or changes in non-motor areas. The aim is to demonstrate that in some cases of secondary dystonia, the sole use of impairment level measures, such as the Burke-Fahn-Marsden Dystonia Rating Scale, may be insufficient to fully evaluate outcome following deep brain stimulation.


Six paediatric cases who underwent deep brain stimulation surgery with a minimum of one year follow up were selected on the basis of apparent non-response to deep brain stimulation, defined as a clinically insignificant change in the Burke-Fahn-Marsden Dystonia Movement Scale (<20%), but where other evaluation measures demonstrated clinical efficacy across several domains.


Despite no significant change in Burke-Fahn-Marsden Dystonia Rating Scale scores following deep brain stimulation, parallel outcome measures demonstrated significant benefit in a range of child and family-centred goal areas including: pain and comfort, school attendance, seating tolerance, access to assistive technology and in some cases carer burden.


Sole use of impairment-focused measures, are limited in scope to evaluate outcome following deep brain stimulation, particularly in secondary dystonias. Systematic study of effects across multiple dimensions of disability is needed to determine what deep brain stimulation offers patients in terms of function, participation, care, comfort and quality of life. Deep brain stimulation may offer meaningful change across multiple domains of functioning, disability and health even in the absence of significant change in dystonia rating scales.

Copyright © 2012 European Paediatric Neurology Society. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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