A Guide to Parkinson’s Treatments for Patients and Their Families
A Parkinson’s disease diagnosis will have a serious impact upon senior health due to the progressive nature of the condition. Following a diagnosis, it is normal for seniors and their families to experience a wide range of emotions as they sort through the options that are available. Although there is no cure for Parkinson’s, there are several different types of treatment that can be done to slow the progression of the disease.
Types of Available Medications
The majority of Parkinson’s patients use medications that can effectively manage symptoms for many years. Levodopa is the most common drug that is prescribed for Parkinson’s, and patients may also be prescribed one or more of the following types of medicine.
- COMT Inhibitors
- MAO-B Inhibitors
- Dopamine Agonists
- Anticholinergic Drugs
Therapy for Management of Symptoms
As the disease progresses, many patients are referred by their doctors to rehabilitation services where they can learn therapeutic exercises to manage their symptoms. Physical therapy can help patients to improve their balance and overall mobility. Muscle-strengthening exercises can be taught to Parkinson’s patients that will help improve their grip while also benefiting their ability to speak and swallow. Patients will be encouraged to exercise every day and continue with their physical therapy sessions for strength and balance maintenance.
Advanced Treatment Options
For most patients, medicine and physical therapy are enough to control their symptoms. However, recent advances in science have led to new treatments that are reserved for the most severe cases of Parkinson’s.
- Pallidotomy-a surgical procedure during which a part of the brain caused the globus pallidus is destroyed.
- Thalamotomy-a surgical procedure that destroys the thalamus and is only effective for reducing tremors.
- Deep Brain Stimulation-an alternative to surgery during which electrodes are placed in the regions of the brain that are affected so that electrical pulses can be sent there and reduce the activity that causes symptoms
It is important to remember that due to the wide range of Parkinson’s symptoms, each patient will have a treatment plan that is individualized to meet their needs. Generally, a physician will first prescribe less invasive treatments such as medication and physical therapy, and most patients will find some relief from their symptoms with just these two options. As the disease progresses, however, a patient’s treatment plan may need to be adjusted to accommodate changing symptoms and levels of ability to function independently.