Stimulation of the inner ear may help improve Parkinson’s disease symptoms, investigators have found.

A randomized, controlled study showed that twice-daily stimulation of the balance organs in the inner ear for two months led to a significant reduction in motor and non-motor symptoms.

Participants reported greater movement and mobility, and showed improvements in decision-making, attention, memory, mood, and sleep. By the end of the study, participants said they found it easier to perform everyday activities by themselves. Motor and non-motor ability gains were still evident five weeks after treatment, suggesting that the gains are long-lasting, the investigators wrote.

“Those symptoms are often untreated or poorly treated and have a particularly detrimental impact on quality of life,” said Ray Chaudhuri, M.D., director of the National Parkinson Foundation Centre of Excellence at King’s College Hospital, London, in a statement. “I am intrigued and want to see where this device technology might go.”

Study subjects self-administered caloric vestibular stimulation at home using a portable ThermoNeuroModulation™ device. The researchers foresee a day when clinicians may want to add the therapy to traditional drug regimes.

The study was led by researchers at the University of Kent, London.