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New Guidelines for Parkinson's Disease

By Sandra Ray, Staff Writer

(Page 2 of 3)

In addition, patients should not feel that symptoms like depression, hallucinations, and psychosis are a natural part of the disease progression. William J. Weiner, MD, FAAN, of the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore noted when the guidelines were issued, “Effective treatments are available, and treatment can greatly improve the patient’s quality of life.”

Additional Treatment Methodologies:

Researchers were pleased to discover that there is a wide range of treatment options for PD. Included in the guidelines are treatment recommendations for various stages of the disease, including medications that may help symptoms subside, at least in part. It is particularly noteworthy to include that some of the symptoms that may respond to medications include individuals who experience motor movement fluctuations and dyskinesia. The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research defines dyskinesia as “Involuntary, uncontrollable, and often excessive movement.”

For patients with debilitating movement issues, there are also guidelines for deep brain stimulation, a surgical procedure that may be able to assist these patients. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NIDS), deep brain stimulation implants a small battery-operated neurostimulator “to deliver electrical stimulation to targeted areas in the brain that control movement, blocking the abnormal nerve signals that cause tremor and PD symptoms.” The surgery can be reversed if other treatments are discovered that may help the patient, and the stimulation to the brain can be adjusted as time passes and the disease progresses.

Nutritional Supplements:

Many people have tried to use nutritional supplements such as Vitamin E as a way to improve or slow down the progression of PD symptoms. When researchers reviewed studies, they found no evidence that these nutritional supplements provide any health benefit. In other words, save money that would be otherwise spent on these vitamins and use it for other treatment possibilities. 

Exercise and Patient Way of Life:

Exercise, however, can be beneficial to the PD patient. There is a great deal of research to support exercise as a healthy alternative to strengthening muscles and keeping them as flexible as possible. Since muscle rigidity is a serious issue for PD patients, it makes sense to keep muscles as toned as possible. There are many ways to do exercise, including walking; swimming; Tai Chi, a Chinese form of martial arts that focuses on toning muscles and balance; and even housework or gardening. It is important that the PD patient have a companion when exercising, since freezing of the muscles can happen when least expected and could lead to a dangerous situation, especially in a swimming pool. While exercise won’t cure PD, it will give the patient better control over their muscles and slow the progression of the disease.

Speech therapy and facial exercises can also help with keeping facial muscles toned and working as well as possible. Practicing different facial expressions such as surprise or pleasure or even general disgust can keep muscles resilient. Speech therapy will help with some of the problems produced by PD such as slow speech, coarse or raspy voice, a low speaking volume, and other speech-related issues.


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