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Want to learn about the various treatments that can make you manage Parkinson symptoms efficiently?

Various treatments and therapies for Parkinson disease

Thanks to modern-day medicine and other forms of treatment, a person with Parkinson disease can manage the symptoms quite efficiently, and continue to live out a normal and long life. If you have been diagnosed with Parkinson disease and are having a difficult time coping with the news, it’s important that you seek out support groups and follow research advancements in the area.

I agree that you may have to work for every movement, chore, and aspect of your daily life. I’m just like you…

Young woman discussing Parkinson disease treatment options with movement disorder sppecialist

However, you should work with your medical team to develop a treatment plan that will allow you to remain independent for as long as possible. And while they are trying different options, medications, doses, and so on, my advice to you is to be patient. This is due to the fact that there is no one-size-fits-all treatment approach. While medication is the most commonly used treatment, surgical therapy and lifestyle changes such as rest and exercise can also help manage the disease. Also, I advise you to look around until you find what works best for you. Locate the best support group, therapist, exercise class, and complementary therapy for you.

In general, medications that provide more dopamine or mimic the action of dopamine help to improve symptoms for a few hours at a time. These treatments are more effective in the early stages of the disease. As the disease worsens, a higher dose is frequently required to achieve the same effect, and medication side effects worsen.

What are the goals of treatment?

There is currently no treatment or prevention for Parkinson's disease. The goal of treatment is for people with Parkinson's disease to be able to control their disease signs and symptoms for as long as possible while minimizing adverse events and improving their quality of life, with:

o Medications, such as those that replace the missing dopamine in the brain, to help restore normal neuron behavior and movement

o Conventional therapies, such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy

o Complementary therapies, such as aromatherapy and reflexology

o Objective monitoring/tracking of symptoms with different devices adapted to patients' needs

Let’s have a look at the options offered to us as far as Parkinson Disease treatment is concerned:

  • Medication. The most common medications used to treat Parkinson disease are formulated to help maintain, replenish or mimic dopamine and other chemicals in the brain:

o Levodopa replenishes the brain's decreasing supply of dopamine,

o Carbidopa is used in combination with levodopa (e.g. Sinemet) to help reduce the side effects associated with levodopa, such as nausea, low blood pressure, and restlessness.

o Dopamine Agonists mimic the effects of dopamine. They can be used to delay starting levodopa or can be used in addition to it.

o Amantadine can boost levels of dopamine that are already present in the brain.

o Anticholinergic medications are prescribed to help reduce tremor.

o Catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) inhibitors block enzymes that break down dopamine and thereby prolong dopamine's action in the brain.

o Monoamine Oxidase (MAO) B Inhibitors also blocks an enzyme that breaks down dopamine and allows it to function for a longer period.

o Adenosine Receptor Antagonist may keep muscles working more normally in what are known as "off" periods when patients are taking levodopa/carbidopa.

Finding the right combination of Parkinson Disease medications can take time in order to find what works best with the least amount of side effects, which can include nausea, low blood pressure, dizziness, constipation, insomnia, hallucinations, and dyskinesia (uncontrolled body movements). Only your doctor may prescribe one of the above medications to relieve some of these side effects or to relieve the non-motor symptoms commonly associated with Parkinson disease.

  • Deep Brain Stimulation. An invasive option typically reserved for those who don't respond well enough to medication, deep brain stimulation is a surgical procedure where thin metal wires are placed in the brain and programmed to send electrical pulses that aid in controlling motor symptoms. In general, it is considered for patients who have had Parkinson Disease for 4 years or more and it is not recommended for patients with dementia.

  • Focused Ultrasound. A non-invasive option to treat tremor-predominant Parkinson's disease as well as essential tremor. Focused ultrasound for tremor destroys brain cells that cause motor problems. Unlike deep brain stimulation, focused ultrasound therapy is permanent and irreversible. It is also being tested for other Parkinson Disease symptoms.

ONLY your doctor should prescribe the treatments to help you manage your Parkinson symptoms.

Along with taking medication, doing physical therapy can improve your strength, mobility, and balance. Occupational therapy can teach you ways to help you accomplish daily tasks more easily and safely.

  • Sports and workouts. Walking, non-contact boxing, biking, yoga, and tai chi have all been shown to improve balance, motor control, and strength for Parkinson disease patients. Physical and occupational therapy can also help with gait, flexibility, speech, and the ability to perform daily tasks like eating and dressing.

  • Therapies. A variety of therapies are available to help people with Parkinson disease manage their symptoms. Therapists are trained to advise and recommend exercises and treatments that will keep you active and healthy. Your primary care physician, specialist, or Parkinson's nurse may be able to refer you to a therapist:

• A physiotherapist can assist you with posture and mobility issues.

• A speech and language therapist can assist you with swallowing issues as well as any issues with your speech or writing.

• An occupational therapist can assist you with daily tasks such as moving around your home if they become difficult.

  • Complementary therapies.

There is no scientific evidence that complementary therapies can slow, stop, or reverse the progression of Parkinson's disease, but many people with the disease have found them beneficial because it helps them keep a positive mindset, as well as managing their symptoms on a daily basis.

Different therapies will appeal to different people, so experiment to see what works best for you. However, make sure you speak to your GP, your specialist or your Parkinson’s nurse before you start any type of therapy.

If you feel sharing your thoughts about which of the above treatments have been helpful/ unhelpful to you, please share it with me by clicking below.

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