Parkinson’s Disease: Effect of Deep Brain Stimuation on Driving

Priv. Doz. Dr. Carsten Buhmann Department of Neurology University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Interview with:
Priv. Doz. Dr. Carsten Buhmann
Department of Neurology
University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf
Hamburg, Germany. What are the main findings of the study?

Answer: Deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the subthalamic nucleus (STN) has no negative but rather a beneficial effect on driving in patients with Parkinsons´s disease (PD). Driving not only was superior in even more clinically affected PD patients with DBS compared with PD patients without DBS but also patients with DBS drove better with stimulation than with levodopa.

This might reflect favorable driving-relevant nonmotor effects due to STN-DBS. Were any of the findings unexpected?

Answer: Unexpectedly, PD patients with DBS and controls drove comparably well. The driving course was demanding but short and patients reported lower annual mileage. Driving of longer distances might be worse in patients because of problems with sustained attention. Therefore, the present results might be limited to shorter driving distances, such as inner-city or neighborhood driving. What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?


  • Regaining a better driving ability in PD might be one aspect of improved quality of life with DBS in comparison to medical treatment alone
  • Driving permission for DBS-treated patients with PD should not be handled more restrictively than permissions for patients with PD in general
  • The study results should not bring PD patients to undergo DBS just to get back behind the wheel. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Answer: A prospective study investigating driving ability of PD patients before and after DBS operation should be done.


Effect of subthalamic nucleus deep brain stimulation on driving in Parkinson disease

 Carsten Buhmann, MD,  Lea Maintz,  Jonas Hierling, Eik Vettorazzi, Christian K.E. Moll, MD, Andreas K. Engel, MD, Christian Gerloff, MD, Wolfgang Hamel, MD and Wolfgang H. Zangemeister, MD

Published online before print December 18, 2013, doi: 10.1212/01.wnl.0000438223.17976.fb Neurology 10.1212/01.wnl.0000438223.17976.fb

Last Updated on December 21, 2013 by Marie Benz MD FAAD