Symptoms & Management

Symptoms & Management

There are a variety of treatments available for Parkinson's. This section gives an overview of each of these. Select from the list of links below to find out more.

MEDICATION TREATMENT

There is no cure for Parkinson's at present. Medications are used to control the symptoms of Parkinson's. There are no perfect medications, although there are many promising developments.

The main aim of medication treatment for Parkinson's are to:

In most newly diagnosed people considerable improvements can be achieved by careful introduction of anti-parkinsonian medications.

As Parkinson's is a very individual condition, medication is prescribed and adapted to individual needs. Response to medication varies from person to person and not every medication will be considered suitable for everyone. It is important to discuss appropriate medication or any changes in medication with your health care professional.

It is important to also maintain a healthy lifestyle, focusing on exercise, relaxation and diet.

MULTIDISCIPLINARY SUPPORT

Early access to a multidisciplinary support team is important. These teams may include doctors, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, dietitians, social workers and specialist nurses. Members of the team assess the person with Parkinson’s and identify any potential difficulties, focusing on improved movement, independence and quality of life.

SURGICAL INTERVENTION

Deep brain stimulation (a deep brain stimulator is placed in the brain to control tremor) is an option to treat Parkinson’s symptoms; however, it is not suitable for everyone. There are strict criteria and guidelines as to who can be a candidate for surgery, and this is something that only your doctor and you can decide.

SYMPTOMS & MANAGEMENT
1. Mobility:

Rigidity and slowness of movement are the two most frustrating aspects.

Common difficulties are:
2. Eating and Drinking:
3. Constipation May be a Problem Due to:

Poverty of movement and slowing of bowel action, decreasing fluid intake and anticholinergics.

4. Urinary Incontinence May Occur due to Mobility (especially at night):
5. Communication

Parkinson's affects the control of muscle co-ordination and therefore a person's ability to communicate. The symptoms of tremor, stiffness and slowness can also impact upon the person's verbal and non-verbal methods of communicating with others.

Verbal Communication:
Non-Verbal Communication:
Conclusion

Parkinson's can cause considerable difficulties in a person's ability to communicate with others. Speech can be affected in volume, tone, inflection and pace. Facial expression may become mask-like and limb movement restricted. Handwriting can become smaller and smaller until it is indiscernible. These problems however, can be overcome by understanding the complexities of the condition. Concentrate on every movement and one movement only. Regular exercise of everyday movements provides valuable practice and precision. Reduce stress by using relaxation and preparation. Maintain independence and dignity by refusing to allow others to speak for you.

There are a number of factors in relation to Parkinson's Disease which can contribute to the social withdrawal of the person living with Parkinson's.  As Parkinson's is a chronic condition, the potential for these factors influencing the individual become greater over a very long period.

Myths about Parkinson's Disease

The greatest factor at present which contributes to the social isolation of people with Parkinson's is their preconceived ideas or myths about the condition. Many people worry that Parkinson's will either kill them, be inherited by their children, make them totally physically incapacitated, or directly result in dementia. These of course are all untrue. Education at the time of diagnosis is vital in dispelling myths and enlisting the participation of the person and their family in the ongoing management of Parkinson's Disease. Supportive counselling to allow the individual and their family the opportunity to express emotions such as anger, frustration, fear etc. within a safe environment is extremely therapeutic. Most people worry about what others will think and therefore attempt to hide their Parkinson's. Acceptance of the condition and participation in management decisions through education will encourage the person to maintain independence and optimal functioning. As well as individual education, broader public awareness campaigns and specific inservice education sessions for health providers will improve understanding of the condition and how we can lessen the stigma associated with Parkinson's Disease.