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J Parkinsons Dis. 2018;8(2):267-271. doi: 10.3233/JPD-171150.

Impact of Subthalamic Deep Brain Stimulation Frequency on Upper Limb Motor Function in Parkinson's Disease.

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Sobell Department of Motor Neuroscience, UCL Institute of Neurology, National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, London, UK.
Department of Neurology, Innsbruck Medical University, Innsbruck, Austria.
Department of Neurology, University Medical Centre Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Department of Neurology, University Hospitals of Geneva, Switzerland.



Whilst changes in the frequency of subthalamic deep brain stimulation (STN-DBS) have been proposed to improve control of tremor or axial motor features in Parkinson's disease (PD), little is known about the effects of frequency changes on upper limb motor function, particularly bradykinesia.


To investigate the acute effects of various STN-DBS frequencies (40-160 Hz, 40 Hz intervals) on upper limb motor function.


We carried out a randomised, double-blind study on 20 PD patients with chronic STN-DBS using the Simple and Assembly components of the Purdue Pegboard (PP) test and a modified upper limb version of the UPDRS-III (UL-UPDRS-III).


There was no significant effect of frequency on bradykinesia on the Simple PP task or the UL-UPDRS-III. There was an effect of frequency on the Assembly PP score when comparing all frequencies (p = 0.019) and between 80 Hz and 130 Hz (p = 0.007), with lower frequencies yielding a better performance. Rigidity and Tremor scores were significantly reduced with higher (>80 Hz) compared to lower (40 Hz) frequencies.


Our findings suggest that a wide range of frequencies are efficacious in improving acute upper-limb motor function. Reducing the frequency of stimulation down to 80 Hz is safe and has a similar clinical effect to higher frequencies. Therefore, a wider range of frequencies are available when it comes adjusting patients' acute settings without the risk of worsening bradykinesia.


Bradykinesia; Parkinson’s disease; deep brain stimulation; rigidity; subthalamic nucleus; tremor

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