Effects of deep brain stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus on freezing of gait in Parkinson's disease: a prospective controlled study.

S. Vercruysse, W. Vandenberghe, L. Mun̈ks, B. Nuttin, H. Devos, A. Nieuwboer

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89 Scopus citations


Freezing of gait (FOG) is a debilitating gait disorder in Parkinson's disease (PD) with partial responsiveness to dopaminergic medication. To date, notions about the effects of subthalamic deep brain stimulation (STN-DBS) on FOG remain controversial. To compare the effects of bilateral STN-DBS and continued best medical treatment (BMT) on FOG occurrence, FOG severity and clinical outcomes in PD patients at 6 and 12 months follow-up. In this prospective, controlled study, 41 PD patients with at least 5 years disease duration participated. Twenty-four subjects (20 with FOG) were treated with STN-DBS and seventeen (15 with FOG) continued BMT. The primary outcome was the New Freezing of Gait Questionnaire (NFOGQ) at 6 months postsurgery. Other outcomes were the NFOGQ at 12 months and clinical outcomes (Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale III (UPDRS III), timed gait, falls and quality of life) at both time points. STN-DBS increased the likelihood to convert from being a freezer to a non-freezer at 6 and 12 months follow-up (relative risk reduction=0.4). However, 45% of baseline freezers still experienced FOG 6 and 12 months postsurgery although with reduced severity. Three baseline non-freezers (1/2 BMT-treated, 2/4 STN-DBS-treated) developed FOG during follow-up. STN-DBS-induced benefits on FOG were mostly mediated by baseline levodopa equivalent dose, altered medication-intake and reduced motor fluctuations. In contrast to continued BMT, STN-DBS reduced FOG occurrence and severity at 6 months postsurgery with largely sustained effects at 12 months follow-up. Longer follow-up periods are needed to test whether FOG improvements after STN-DBS persist with disease progression. Published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited. For permission to use (where not already granted under a licence) please go to http://group.bmj.com/group/rights-licensing/permissions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)871-877
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014


  • Gait
  • Motor control
  • Movement disorders
  • Neurosurgery
  • Parkinson's disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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