Proof-of-concept study

Exploring the mechanisms and clinical effects of spinal cord stimulation in Parkinson’s disease

Investigators: Camila Aquino, Fady Girgis, Taylor Chomiak, Aaron Phillips.

This study aims to evaluate a novel modality of neuromodulation, targeting the dorsal column of the spinal cord to treat motor symptoms and gait problems in PD. There has been an increasing enthusiasm in spinal cord stimulation for PD; however, little has been done to explore its mechanisms and define the ideal approach, such as stimulation levels and optimal parameters.

We formed a team of experts, including Dr. Aquino, a movement disorder neurologist specialized in neuromodulation; Dr. Girgis, a functional neurosurgeon with expertise in DBS and SCS; Dr. Chomiak, a scientist with expertise in gait problems in PD; and Dr. Phillips, an exponent scientist in the field of spinal cord stimulation for traumatic spinal injury. Together, we developed a proof-of-concept study to investigate the mechanisms of SCS in patients with PD. This is the first study investigating brain recording during SCS. In addition, we aim to refine the methodology of SCS and determine the ideal parameters to improve PD symptoms. Our ultimate goal is to design a larger clinical trial and apply for external funding from CIHR to evaluate the efficacy of SCS in a larger sample of patients with PD.

Considering the complexity of PD patients, the resistance of symptoms to current therapies, and the complications of available therapies such as dopaminergic drugs and DBS, this proposal may lead to the identification of a novel target for neuromodulation in PD and allow the development of an impactful clinical trial that could change clinical practice.