APRIL: PARKINSON'S AWARENESS MONTH
DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT OF PARKINSON'S
DIAGNOSIS: There is no definitive test for Parkinson's. One's primary physician is often the first to make the diagnosis after taking a careful neurological history and exam. One of the most important things to remember about diagnosing Parkinson's is that there must be two of the four main symptoms (see last week's blog) present over a period of time for Parkinson's to be considered.
Once Parkinson's is considered,it is suggested that you be referred to a neurologist who specializes in Parkinson's--often referred to as a movement disorder specialist. The examination by the neurologist remains the first and most important diagnostic tool. This includes: a detailed medical history and physical examination; detailed history of your current and past medications, to make sure you are not taking medications that can cause symptoms similar to Parkinson's; performing tasks to assess the agility of arms and legs, muscle tone, your gait and balance. The response to medications (that imitate or stimulate the production of dopamine) causing a significant improvement in symptoms is how the diagnosis of Parkinson's is made clinically.
When questions arise, some newer imaging modalities such as PET and DAT scans may aid diagnosis, when performed by an expert in neuroimaging. DAT scan is FDA approved for differentiating Parkinson's from essential tremor.
TREATMENT: There is no cure for Parkinson's disease, but medication and therapy is used to treat its symptoms. The treatment for each person with Parkinson's is based on his or her symptoms. Treatments include medications, surgical options and lifestyle modifications.
MEDICATIONS: aimed at either temporarily replenishing dopamine or mimic the action of dopamine. These types of drugs are dopaminergic. They help reduce muscle rigidity, improve speed and coordination of movement and lesson tremor. Caution: These medications may have interactions with certain foods, other medications, vitamins, herbal supplements, over the counter cold pills and other remedies. Discuss all medications with physician!
SURGICAL OPTIONS: surgical treatment is reserved for Parkinson's patients who have exhausted medical treatment. Options should be discussed with physician.
LIFESTYLE MODIFICATIONS: exercise is a vital component to maintaining balance, mobility and daily living activities. Getting more rest is also very important.
SPEECH AND SWALLOWING: people with Parkinson's may notice changes in or difficulty with chewing, eating, speaking or swallowing. It is recommended to see a speech-language pathologist for proper evaluation and treatment of these issues.
Hope you found this information helpful. We at ElderCaring can provide excellent caregivers to you in your home.
Next week: Living with Parkinson's.