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The 411 on Parkinson's

By Sandra Ray, Staff Writer

(Page 3 of 3)

Seeking out Treatment Options:

Depending on how soon the disease is diagnosed, your physician may have several options. Since there is no cure, treatment is provided in order to manage symptoms. Doctors will often prescribe a medication to help replace the dopamine that the disease attacks, although this is not the only method of treatment you should consider.

Patients can help themselves at home through consistently exercising affected muscles, keeping them as flexible as possible. As the disease progresses, the exercise methods may change in order to provide a new level of comfort for the patient. In addition, there are diet considerations that can help; for some people, losing weight will help ease muscle pain and symptoms.

There are also surgical options for a limited set of patients who need more aggressive treatment. Your physician can discuss these options with you and determine if your case is a candidate for this type of treatment.

Recent studies have revealed that supplements, such as vitamin E and others like it, have no real role in treating PD. Families who may have once been instructed to try supplements in order to strengthen someoneís overall health, muscle tone, and other areas are finding that these assumptions have not born scientific fruit. In other words, save your money when it comes to supplements. There are other more effective treatment methods available to you and your loved ones.

Research concerning treatment and possible cures is ongoing. More patients are needed for clinical trials in order to develop additional lines of research and decide whether or not existing theories need more study. The Parkinsonís community has been under-represented in clinical trials, resulting in less advances in treatment options and causality of the disease.

Living with Parkinsonís:

It is possible to lead a fulfilling life despite PD. The disease may change the way a patient views their activity level, yet it is possible through treatment to continue many of the same hobbies and even work on career choices. Your familyís doctor is the best place to start when asking questions about the level of activity that you can expect with each stage of the disease. Exercise, for example, is one area that should be discussed clearly with your physician. Finding out the areas where you may need more assistance is critical so you can plan and be prepared for them.

In addition, caregivers need to be prepared with questions for physicians to find out some of the aspects of the disease that can affect them. Traveling with someone who has PD can be challenging, for example, but that doesnít mean that you need to shelve ideas of the familyís vacation. Making minor modifications may be all that is necessary. Including a physical therapist in the planning process may also be extremely beneficial since there are mobility concerns that need to be addressed as well.

Families need to be aware of the latest research, treatment options, and additional symptoms that could be experienced as the disease progresses. The disease may advance slowly, especially if caught early and treatment begins quickly; however, it may take its toll on someone quicker if he or she is in poor health and chooses not to take steps toward living a healthier lifestyle. Parkinsonís may not be curable, but it is manageable with help from a good family support system, solid medical advice, and advance planning.


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