By Karolina Stetsyuk, PT, DPT, Neurologic Clinical Specialist
The constant research being conducted sometimes is just eye opening. Last month, a study was published in Nature Biotechnology that has progressed the science of brainwave technology even more. Researchers have been able to apply a device that records brain activity in order to identify patterns that correspond to specific movements that are seen with patients who have Parkinson’s disease (PD).
It has been thought that Parkinson’s disease causes erratic brain wave patterns that trigger symptoms (slowness of movement, freezing, tremors, etc) and now researchers have found that that’s not the case. They have found that when patients have periods of excessive movements or slowness of movement, there is a corresponding frequency and exaggeration of brain waves deep within the motor cortex of the brain.
In order to find this, the research team implanted a small sensor that measured electrical activity deep inside the brain and then attached them to a pulse generator that can sense the signals. Thus, the team was able to get a comprehensive movement picture of continuous daily activities of a cohort test subjects who had been diagnosed with PD.
In the past few decades, one of the treatments for PD is deep brain stimulation (a device that delivers electrical impulses into the brain) to help control movement, but no one was really sure about how it worked as they couldn’t measure the effects. To find out how deep brain stimulation worked, instead of just looking at erratic brain waves, they found that these waves can be controlled to a degree which they haven’t been able to do in the past. They found two types of waves – higher and lower frequency waves. By suppressing the lower frequency waves, they found that they were able to inhibit unwanted physical movement and by regulating higher frequency waves, they were then able to promote movement. All of the movement data was recorded via wrist band devices that sensed the subjects’ movements.
This research is still very broad and not yet patient specific but it’s pretty cool to know that every patient who is diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease probably has his/her own kind of brainwaves. It’s promising to know that there is potential to treat and maybe correct the physical symptoms that manifest via the erratic brain wave patterns and inhibit movement and improve quality of life.