Treating the neurodegenerative disorder Parkinson’s disease can be incredibly challenging. Since the condition’s progression varies widely, there is no standard treatment. Ideally, patients work with their healthcare provider to create a treatment plan tailored to their symptoms. Here we will discuss the current treatments for Parkinson’s Disease.
Most treatment plans include a multipronged approach, combining exercise, therapies, and medications to manage symptoms and slow the condition’s progression.
Exercises for Parkinson’s Disease
Exercise is critical to maintaining balance, mobility, and strength for those with Parkinson’s. When using physical activity to manage Parkinson’s symptoms, patients should combine aerobic, strength, balance, agility, and flexibility exercises.
Many activities incorporate these elements, such as yoga, biking, running, dance, and Pilates.
Therapies for Treating Parkinson’s Disease
Depending on the symptoms a patient experiences, several therapies can assist with mobility, speech, and function.
Many Parkinson’s patients are prescribed physical therapy to remain independent. These therapies can retrain the muscles and slow the progression of hypokinesia, or smaller movements that develop as the disease progresses.
Additionally, physical therapy can aid balance, flexibility, strength, and coordination.
Occupational therapy allows those with Parkinson’s to remain active and find new ways to complete tasks that become more difficult as the condition progresses. Patients also learn to use new equipment to stay independent and add ease to movement.
Many patients with Parkinson’s experience speech problems such as low speech volume, hoarse or breathy speaking, or lack of pitch. Speech therapy can help with speaking mechanics, using assistive devices, and swallowing concerns.
Medications for Parkinson’s Disease
Currently, the most common medication for managing the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease is a drug called levodopa. The brain converts levodopa to dopamine, helping replace the neurotransmitter’s loss.
Since levodopa can cause nausea, the medication is almost always administered with a companion drug, carbidopa, which manages stomach upset and nausea symptoms.
Unfortunately, levodopa’s absorption is inconsistent because it takes a long path from the small intestine through the blood to the brain. The inconsistency can lead to a rise and fall in the brain’s dopamine levels.
Additionally, the treatment becomes less effective over time, as the cells that convert levodopa to dopamine continue to decline. There are several other medications aimed at reducing Parkinson’s symptoms. However, they all have some limitations.
Surgical treatments for Parkinson’s disease include deep brain stimulation (DBS) and Duopa.
Deep Brain Stimulation
DBS aims to reduce patients’ movement-related symptoms. In this procedure, a surgeon implants electrodes into the brain. These electrodes deliver electrical stimulation into targeted areas that control movement.
Many patients experience a reduction in symptoms after DBS surgery. However, the amount of reduction varies, and most patients remain on their medications, though in smaller doses.
Duopa allows carbidopa-levodopa medication to be administered directly into the intestine via a gel. This methodology improves absorption and reduces the fluctuation of dopamine levels.
Patients require surgery to place a tube in the intestine. Then, a pump delivers Duopa directly to the intestine via the tube.
New Alternative Therapy
Researchers are seeing promising results in investigating regenerative medicine, also known as stem cell therapy, for managing Parkinson’s disease. Early studies offer hope that stem cells will provide a more comprehensive option to manage Parkinson’s symptoms. If you would like to learn more about the treatment options available at Stemedix for Parkinson’s Disease, contact a care coordinator today!