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Parkinsons - A Disease of Aging Page1 2

Parkinsons - Current Treatments

A Neurologist will be the specialist who makes the diagnosis of Parkinson's based on the symptoms being experienced and after ruling out other causes. This same physician will determine the treatment plan that is most appropriate for the patient. Currently the choices of treatment include several medications, surgical treatment, and physical and occupational therapy. Nutritional counseling can also be beneficial.

Medications

  • Levodopa - this drug is the most powerful weapon your doctor has. It effect is to replace the dopamine that is no longer being produced by degenerating brain cells.

  • Selegiline - This drug helps to prevent the breakdown of dopamine by chemicals produced in the brain. This helps to preserve the dopamine for its function of helping the brain to coordinate and control movement.

  • COMT inhibitors - COMT is another enzyme that breaks down Levodopa before it reaches the brain. These drugs inhibit the action of this enzyme so more of the drug as dopamine reaches the brain.

  • Dopamine agonists - These drugs mimic that action of dopamine rather than replace it. It can be useful in later stages of the disease when Levodopa may no longer be as effective.

  • Anticholinergic drugs - These older drugs have a mild effect on the symptoms of Parkinson's. They may be helpful for younger patients with early symptoms. They are not usually prescribed for older patients due to side effects.

  • Amantadine - This drug lets the dopamine stay longer at its site of effect. It has only a mild effectiveness.

  • Apomorphine - This drug is used in later stage Parkinson's. Patients who have been on Levodopa for long periods may have fluctuations in effect. This drug helps Levodopa to maintain its effectiveness. It is given by injection.

Surgical Treatment

  • Pallidotomy - This procedure destroys brain tissue that is causing unwanted movements. It is much safer now due to more precise imaging and surgical techniques.

  • Brain Tissue Transplants - These are still mostly experimental treatments using fetal tissue. The goal is to replace degenerated brain tissue with tissue that can produce dopamine.

  • Deep Brain Stimulation - This procedure involves implanting a device which switches off and on as needed to control unwanted movements.

Exercise
Moderate exercise may help to relieve stiffness and muscle wasting. A physician may prescribe a course of treatment by a physical therapist to help improve balance.

Nutrition
Persons with Parkinson's may experience delayed gastric emptying and difficulty swallowing. Small frequent meals may help to maintain good nutrition.


More Resources
Parkinson's Disease
Clinical Studies
Recent News Stories
Support Organizations

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