Updated: Mar 25
Whether you're someone who has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease or simply looking to learn more about this complex condition, this article has something for you.
We will dive into the latest research and treatment options, as well as share personal stories and insights from those living with Parkinson's.
By the end of this article, you will have a deeper understanding of Parkinson's disease and how it impacts individuals and their families, as well as gain practical tips for managing the condition. So come along and join us on this journey of discovery and understanding!
What is Parkinson's disease ?
Parkinson's disease (PD) is a progressive neurological disorder that affects movement. It is caused by the degeneration of dopamine-producing neurons in the brain, which leads to a shortage of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps control movement.
"In the last 25 years, the worldwide prevalence of PD has increased twofold, with current estimates indicating that there are over 8.5 million people living with PD globally as of 2019." – WHO 2022.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of Parkinson's disease typically develop gradually over time and can include:
Akinesia or bradykinesia (slowed movements)
Postural imbalance (difficulty with balance and coordination)
Other symptoms may include:
Changes in speech
Difficulty with swallowing, and
How can PD be treated?
While there is no cure for Parkinson's disease, there are a variety of treatments available that can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life.
Dopamine agonists (Pramipexole, Ropirinole)
MAO-B inhibitors (Rasagiline, Selegiline)
Physical therapy, exercise, and speech therapy can also be helpful in managing symptoms
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgery:
DBS implants electrodes in the brain to regulate abnormal neural activity that causes movement symptoms in Parkinson's and other disorders. It's effective for those who don't respond to medication and can treat conditions like essential tremor and dystonia. However, DBS is complex and carries risks like infection, bleeding, and adverse effects on cognition and mood. Patients should carefully consider the procedure's benefits and risks with their healthcare team.
Focused ultrasound ablation:
A recent study found that using ultrasound to treat Parkinson's disease by ablating a part of the brain called the pallidum resulted in improved motor function and less shaking for patients over a three month period. However, there were some side effects associated with the procedure. To better understand how effective and safe this treatment is, larger and longer studies are needed. (NEJM 2023; 388:683-693)
In addition to traditional treatments, there are also a variety of alternative therapies that some people with Parkinson's disease have found to be helpful.
These may include acupuncture, massage, and tai chi. However, it's important to note that there is limited scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of these treatments, and they should be used in conjunction with traditional treatments rather than as a replacement.