Due to the costs and risks, Beck recommends that people considering DBS find a medical facility that has well-established expertise and resources. With that caution in mind, Beck says the new study "bodes well for individuals who elect to take this route earlier."
The European's studies finding that earlier treatment works jibes with studies examining deep-brain stimulation in people with more advanced Parkinson's disease, Deuschl says. The results also open the possibility that the procedure could offer more than alleviation of symptoms. "The most important question is: 'How does this group do in the long run?'" he says. "We would like to know if this improvement is maintained for seven to eight years or if they deteriorate over time." If the researchers observe a decrease in the rate of disease progression as compared with the medicine-only group, he says, that would indicate that early intervention could change the course of the disease.