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Effects of Low-Intensity Vestibular Noise Stimulation on Postural Instability in Patients with Parkinson's Disease.

J Parkinsons Dis. 2022 Apr 28. doi: 10.3233/JPD-213127. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35491798.

Authors/Editors: Wuehr M, Schmidmeier F, Katzdobler S, Fietzek UM, Levin J, Zwergal A.
Publication Date: 2022

Abstract

Background:

Postural instability is a major disabling factor in patients with advanced Parkinson’s disease (PD) and often resistant to treatment. Previous studies indicated that imbalance in PD may be reduced by low-intensity noisy galvanic vestibular stimulation (nGVS).

Objective:

To investigate the potential mode of action of this therapeutic effect. In particular, we examined whether nGVS-induced reductions of body sway in PD are compatible with stochastic resonance (SR), a mechanism by which weak sensory noise stimulation can paradoxically enhance sensory information transfer.

Methods:

Effects of nGVS of varying intensities (0–0.7 mA) on body sway were examined in 15 patients with PD standing with eye closed on a posturographic force plate. We assumed a bell-shaped response curve with maximal reductions of sway at intermediate nGVS intensities to be indicative of SR. An established SR-curve model was fitted on individual patient outcomes and three experienced human raters had to judge whether responses to nGVS were consistent with the exhibition of SR.

Results:

nGVS-induced reductions of body sway compatible with SR were found in 10 patients (67%) with optimal improvements of 23±13% . In 7 patients (47% ), nGVS-induced sway reductions exceeded the minimally important clinical difference (optimal improvement: 30±10% ), indicative of strong SR. This beneficial effect was more likely in patients with advanced PD (R = 0.45; p = 0.045).

Conclusions:

At least half of the assessed patients showed robust improvements in postural balance compatible with SR when treated with low-intensity nGVS. In particular, patients with more advanced disease stages and imbalance may benefit from the non-invasive and well-tolerated treatment with nGVS.

 

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