Parkinson's Disease Treatment

  • Treatment

    Stress can make PD symptoms more obvious. Eating a well-balanced diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough rest can help reduce stress and lessen the symptoms of PD. Regular exercise can also help you maintain muscle strength and flexibility. Consult with a physical therapist to develop an exercise plan.

    PD patients benefit from lifestyle changes and changes in the home as their abilities decline. Patients should adapt their homes to match their capabilities and prevent fatigue, which can worsen symptoms. For example, installing railings in the bathroom or using a walker can help someone with PD maintain independence. Someone with PD may require more rest than they had previously, or may need someone to be present to meet the challenges of daily living.

    Your doctor is the best source of information on the drug treatment choices available to you.

    Physical therapy can help a person with Parkinson's maintain muscle function and strength. Speech therapy can also be helpful. The symptoms of rigidity, tremor, and slowed voluntary motion can cause a PD patient to exercise less, resulting in muscle atrophy. Working with a physical therapist can help a PD patient fight this tendency and remain independent for a longer time.

    Parkinson's disease patients with depression who cannot be treated with antidepressant drugs may benefit from psychotherapy. Electrical stimulation of certain parts of the brain has been shown to eliminate tremor in Parkinson's disease patients. This treatment, which is still being investigated, may also help relieve other symptoms.

    A treatment in which fetal brain cells (from humans or pigs) are surgically implanted in the brain is currently being evaluated. Early studies suggest that this treatment may help some Parkinson's patients (especially younger individuals); however, the surgery remains experimental.

    Brain surgery may be performed for patients who no longer respond to drug treatment, or who have severe side effects from medications. In one procedure, called thalamotomy, a small hole is made in a part of a brain called the thalamus. In another procedure, called a pallidotomy, a small hole is made in a part of the brain called the globus pallidus. Thalamotomy is best for controlling tremor, and pallidotomy is best for controlling the drug side effect involuntary movements (dyskinesia).

    Electrical deep brain stimulation (DBS) is the newest form of surgical therapy. Electrical deep brain stimulation delivers high-frequency waves through electrodes that are implanted in the brain. Depending on where the electrodes are placed in the brain, DBS can control tremor or slowness. The advantage of DBS is that it is reversible and it can also be done on both sides of the brain. Thalamotomy and pallidotomy should only be done on one side of the brain.

    Up to half of patients with PD have some degree of depression or dementia. Dopamine plays an important role in mood. The lack of dopamine in PD can result in depression. Dementia may be part of the disease, or may result from side effects of medication.

    Because you may have difficulty swallowing, you may become malnourished. It may be helpful for a person with Parkinson's to meet with a nutritionist to ensure a healthy diet, and to gather some tips on eating well with PD.

    Although medical therapy can treat the symptoms of the disease, there is no cure for Parkinson's disease.The goal of medical treatment for Parkinson's is to allow you to maintain maximal functioning while using the least amount of medication. While medical therapy can help alleviate some of the symptoms of Parkinson's disease, it gradually becomes less effective. For this reason, some neurologists do not start medical treatment immediately, but wait until the disease progresses.

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