The Disabling Symptoms Of Parkinsons Disease
PD is generally caused by a deficiency of dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain. The lack of dopamine disrupts a persons movement and coordination.;
The main motor symptoms include:
- tremor in the hands, arms, legs, jaw, or head
- muscle rigidity of the limbs and trunk
- impaired coordination and balance, including posture, gait, and mobility.
Other symptomswhich on their own, severely damage ones quality of lifeinclude pain, confusion, fatigue, sleep disturbances, depression, anxiety, urinary problems, difficulty swallowing, speech problems, and cognitive changes. Advanced PD can result in severe dementia.
There is no single test that concludes a person has Parkinsons disease. Diagnosis is based on an ongoing medical history, the patients symptoms, neurological and physical exams, and medical tests and scans targeting Parkinsonian Syndrome.;
Veterans Exposed To Agent Orange May Qualify For Va Presumptive Disability
As a veteran of a foreign war, you have no doubt that your disability was caused during military service. You didnt suffer as badly as many of your fellow soldiersand you made it home alivebut now youre suffering from the long-term effects of chemical exposure from overseas. Will the VA still allow you to collect benefits for disability even if you were stationed out of the country over several decade ago?
Agent Orange Effects Beyond The Veteran
Agent Orange exposure does not end with the veteran; it may also contribute to birth defects and disorders in veterans children.;;Studies;have indicated that Agent Orange exposure has led to increased rates of stillbirths and birth defects in the children of veterans exposed to Agent Orange.
Additionally, evidence has linked Agent Orange exposure to spina bifida, a birth defect in which the spinal cord does not develop properly.; Other neural conditions and nervous;disorders in veterans children;may also be Agent Orange-related.
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Update Of The Epidemiologic Literature
Vietnam-Veteran and Case-Control Studies
Since Update 2012, no new Vietnam-veteran, occupational, or case-control studies have been published concerning cognitive or neuropsychiatric disorders and exposure to the COIs.
Since the previous update, Bouchard et al. examined the cross-sectional association between serum PCB concentrations and cognitive function in 708 adults ranging in age from 60 to 84 who participated in the 19992000 or 20012002 iterations of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey . Analyses were limited to the 12 of the 23 PCB congeners measured that were detected in at least 75 percent of the subjects; among these, the dioxin-like compounds were two of the mono-ortho PCBs 118 and 156 and the relatively less potent non-ortho PCBs 126 and 169. Cognitive function was
Suggested Citation:Veterans and Agent Orange: Update 2014
assessed, in a limited fashion, with the Digit-Symbol Coding Test . Neither dioxin-like nor nondioxin-like PCB concentrations were associated with cognitive scores of concern . The authors observed a significant interaction between age and serum concentrations of dioxin-like PCB congeners in the older group , for whom a 100 ng/g increase in serum concentration of dioxin-like PCBs was associated with a 2.65 point lower cognitive score .
Other Recent Literature
Agent Orange And Dementia: The Increased Risk
The study indicated that veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange were nearly twice as likely to become diagnosed with dementia over the 3.8 years following the studys start than those not exposed to Agent Orange.; Ultimately, veterans exposed to Agent Orange tended to develop dementia, on average, 1.25 years earlier than their counterparts without Agent Orange exposure.
The study adjusted for competing risk of death, demographic variables, and medical and psychiatric comorbidities, yet the results still conclusively indicated that veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange faced twice the risk of being diagnosed with dementia.
One of the authors, Deborah E. Barnes, noted in an interview that 5 percent of Vietnam veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange were diagnosed with dementia.; Comparatively, 2,5 percent of Vietnam Veterans who were not exposed to Agent Orange developed dementia.
Environmental Factors In Parkinsons Disease
Here are environmental factors that may play a role in the development of Parkinsons disease:
Although environmental exposure to these and other toxins is of continued research interest, its hard to determine if any one substance is a culprit. Most often, individual cases of Parkinsons disease result from a complex interplay between genetics and environmental and other factors.
Targeting Parkinsons-Linked Protein Could Neutralize 2 of the Diseases Causes
Researchers report they have discovered how two problem proteins known to cause Parkinsons disease are chemically linked, suggesting that someday, both could be neutralized by a single drug designed to target the link.
Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veteran Act
As of January 1, 2020, a new law titled the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veteran Act of 2019 allows Blue Water Navy Veterans to apply for Agent Orange exposure claims. Blue Water Navy Veterans are those who served offshore on a Blue Water Navy vessel or another U.S. Navy or Coast Guard vessel off the Republic of Vietnam between January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975.
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Research On Parkinson’s Disease And Herbicides
The Health and Medicine Division of the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine concluded in its report “Veterans and Agent Orange: Update 2008” released July 24, 2009, that there is “suggestive but limited evidence that exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides used during the Vietnam War is associated with an increased chance of developing Parkinson’s disease.”
As a result, VA recognized Parkinson’s disease as associated with exposure to Agent Orange or other herbicides during military service. VA’s final regulation recognizing this association took effect on October 30, 2010.
Disability Ratings For Parkinsons Disease
Once you are awarded service connection for Parkinsons, the fight may not be over. This is mostly because of the rating system the VA uses for Parkinsons. The minimum rating you can be awarded by the VA for Parkinsons disease is 30 percent, but if you fail to appeal that rating, you are potentially leaving thousands of dollars of benefits on the table.
The 30 percent rating is given to veterans who have the diagnosis of Parkinsons, and is basically acknowledging that they have the condition. What many veterans do not realize is that once you are service connected for Parkinsons Disease, you are entitled to service connection for all the other problems that the condition causes: talking, swallowing, walking, balance problems, using your hands, memory, concentration, depression, and many more. If you have Parkinsons, you are entitled to a separate rating for any condition that it causes. As you may guess, this can be a long list, especially as the disease progresses.
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Will Dementia Be Added To The List Of Presumptive Conditions
The process for adding conditions to the list of presumptive can often take many years and much debate.; The Agent Orange Act of 1991 stipulates that VAs Secretary is required to contract with the Institute of Medicine .; Every two years, at minimum, the IOM is to submit a report that analyzes the link between herbicides used during service and certain health conditions.; The IOM uses data from VA medical exams and treatment provided to Vietnam Veterans who sought treatment after 1981 for Agent Orange exposure.
The IOM is tasked with determining whether there is statistical evidence that supports the link between exposure to herbicides and a specific disease.; The VA Secretary can then determine that a positive association exists, if this is the case, and that presumptive service connection is warranted.
In past instances, Congress has pressured VA to add conditions to the list.; Specifically, in January of 2020, VA Secretary Wilkie reported significant concerns and limitations with several IOM studies concluding that there is suggestive or sufficient evidence linking bladder cancer to Agent Orange exposure.; By March of 2020, a bill was introduced in response to the VAs ongoing delays to add bladder cancer to the list of presumptive conditions.; Finally, the 2021 NDAA was passed by Congress and determined by statute that the condition be added to the list.
Tracing The Link Between Agent Orange And Dementia
The new study sought to examine the association between Agent Orange exposure and incident dementia diagnosis among US veterans who served during the Vietnam War era.; The study was conducted using information from the Veterans Health Administration between October 1, 2001 and September 30, 2015.
The study sampled 2 percent of US veterans who served during the Vietnam War era and had received care from the Veterans Health Administration.; The sampled population excluded those who initially had dementia, those who did not receive follow up care, and those whose exposure to Agent Orange may have been unclear.
In total, 316,351 veterans were analyzed.; The veterans were primarily male.; The average age 62. ;Approximately 38,121 veterans had presumed Agent Orange exposure, presenting with conditions such as Parkinsons Disease, diabetes, and amyloidosis.
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A Lawyer Experienced In Disability Insurance Laws And Parkinsons Disease Can Provide The Support You Need
Group LTD claims fall under federal ERISA law. When a group claim is denied, the information you present in your appeal to the insurance company will also be the basis for a potential lawsuit against the insurance company. An experienced ERISA lawyer is essential to your case.
In a private disability benefits claim denial based on Parkinsons disease, state contract and bad faith laws prevail. In each case, our experienced attorneys are prepared to review your claim, explain your legal options, and help you get the compensation you deserve.
What Is Agent Orange
Agent Orange was a powerful herbicide used by the United States during the Vietnam War to destroy agriculture and forest cover in Vietnam and Korea. However, this military tactic came at a great cost, causing irreversible illness and genetic damage in those exposed to Agent Orange.
Some of the illnesses associated with Agent Orange exposure include leukemia, Hodgkins lymphoma, various types of cancer, and Parkinsons disease. Also, children of veterans exposed to Agent Orange can have severe birth defects and deformities that affect their quality of life.
Causes Of Parkinsons Disease
In spite of decades of study, the causes of Parkinsons have yet to be determined. Many experts say that Parkinsons is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, but these vary case by case. Certain environmental factors, such as occupational exposure to chemicals, have been linked to Parkinsons.;
How Is The Disability Rating For Parkinsons Disease Calculated
VAs rating decision will contain a disability rating. ;Generally, each condition has a separate diagnostic code, which is a four-digit number and name.
But, if you look in the ratings tables, you will not find Parkinsons disease listed by that name. ;Instead, Parkinsons disease is rated using code 8004 Paralysis agitans. ;This diagnostic code assigns a 30% rating, but that is a minimum rating. ;But, most veterans with Parkinsons disease should receive a rating higher than the 30% minimum. ;Because rating Parkinsons is as complex as the disease itself, I wrote this article that focuses exclusively on Parkinsons disease ratings.
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Agent Orange Effects And Presumptive Service Connection
The Agent Orange Act of 1991 established presumptive service connection for veterans who served during certain time periods in specific locations and have been diagnosed with one of the above conditions.
Presumption of exposure means that veterans who served in these locations, at certain times, do;not have to provide the typical elements to establish service connection.; Unlike other claimants, they do not need to show evidence of an in-service event or injury leading to their condition.
Veterans And Agent Orange: Update 2014 Parkinsons
In 2016, the Institute of Medicine published its 10th edition of Veterans and Agent Orange: Update 2014 regarding the health effects related to Agent Orange exposure.; This update included some clarification about Parkinsons disease and how it is diagnosed that may be beneficial for veterans pursuing VA disability compensation.; Specifically, the report noted that Parkinsons disease is diagnosed by exclusion .; Doctors will diagnose the condition by taking into account all of the veterans symptoms and then ruling out other possible conditions that could be causing them.; When all other possible conditions are effectively eliminated, the doctors will then formally diagnose Parkinsons disease.
After releasing Veterans and Agent Orange: Update 2014, the IOM urged VA to act on its recommendations and extend the presumption of service connection to Parkinsons-like symptoms, as well as bladder cancer, hypothyroidism, and hypertension.; However, VA has continued to prolong this process.
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Agent Orange Registry Health Exam
;Eligible veterans can receive anAgent Orange Registry Health Exam, free of charge. There is no obligation to do so. However,veterans who qualify and participate in this program receive a free medical exam, lab tests, and free referrals to medical specialists if appropriate. Participation is voluntary.
Your Agent Orange Registry Health Exam will include:
- ;;;A physical exam
- ;;;Any necessary blood test, x-rays, imaging, or other tests and procedures
- ;;;History of known or suspected exposure to Agent Orange or other herbicides
- ;;;Your health history
You do not have to enroll in the VA health care system to receive a registry health exam.
You do not have to submit to an Agent Orange Registry Health Exam to receive other VA benefits.
If you do have an Agent Orange-related disability or health condition, you may receive free health care for those conditions through the Veterans Administration. To receive care, you must enroll in the VA health care system.
In some cases, you may be referred to one of the VAs threeWar Related Illness and Injury Study Center facilities Washington, D.C., East Orange, NJ, and Palo Alto, CA. These three centers assist veterans with deployment health concerns and difficult diagnoses.
Va Adds Atypical Parkinsonism To List Of Agent Orange
That will make U.S. military veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange eligible for the VAs disability compensation benefits.
Atypical Parkinsonism refers to any condition characterized by Parkinsons-like symptoms such as tremors, slow movement, impaired speech, or muscle stiffness caused by health conditions or factors other than Parkinsons hallmark progressive loss of nerve cells in the brain.
Bladder cancer and hypothyroidism a disorder in which the activity of the thyroid gland is impaired also were added to the list of Agent Orange-associated conditions. Altogether, there now are 17 conditions on the list. Parkinsons disease has been included since;2010.
Many of our Nations Veterans have waited a long time for these benefits, Denis McDonough, the VA secretary, said in a recent agency blog post.
VA will not make them wait any longer, McDonough said, adding that this is absolutely the right thing to do for Veterans and their families.
During the Vietnam War, the U.S. used several herbicides, including Agent Orange, to destroy foliage in the jungle and increase visibility. The herbicide, named for the orange band around its storage barrel, also was used to destroy enemy crops, so as to limit their food supply.
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Health Care Benefits For Agent Orange Exposure
Veterans with service-connected conditions related to Agent Orange may be eligible for specific health care benefits from VA.
Children of veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange may also be eligible for some healthcare benefits, specifically if they have one of the following birth defects:
- Spina bifida
Presumptive Service Connection For Parkinsons:
The VA may presume your PD is connected to your military service. Veterans who develop Parkinsons disease and were exposed to Agent Orange or other herbicides or contaminants during military service do not have to prove a connection between their disease and service to be eligible to receive VA disability compensation.;UPDATE: As of January 2020, the VA extended the presumption of Agent Orange exposure and other toxic herbicides to Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans, and to veterans who served in or near the Korean DMZ . H.R.299 Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019.
Veterans with Parkinsons disease who served in the following locations and specified times need not prove they were exposed to VA-recognized toxins to get disability compensation:
- Exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam: Veterans who set foot in Vietnam, and veterans serving aboard ships operating on the close coastal waters and inland waterways of Vietnam, and as of January 2020, Blue Water Veterans for any duration between January 9, 1962 May 7, 1975, or ;;
- Exposure to Agent Orange in or near the Korean Demilitarized Zone for any duration between April 1, 1968 August 31, 1971, or
- Exposure to Contaminated Water, Marine Base Camp Lejeune, NC for at least 30 days between August 1953 December 1987; .;;
We have more information about Blue Water Veterans.
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Agent Orange Linked To Parkinson’s Heart Disease
Exposure in Vietnam may be linked to heart disease and Parkinson’s, study finds.
An Institute of Medicine report released Friday finds “suggestive but limited” evidence of an elevated risk for these two conditions among soldiers who served in that conflict.
Agent Orange is made up of compounds known to be contaminated with a type of dioxin — tetrachlorodibenzo-para-dioxin — during manufacture. The chemical, named for the color of the barrel it was stored in, was one of the “broad-leaf defoliants” used in Vietnam to destroy vegetation to make enemy activity easier to spot.
Between 1962 and 1970, more than 20 million gallons of herbicides were sprayed in the jungles of Vietnam so that American forces could fight more effectively; Agent Orange was the herbicide used most often to accomplish this goal. The International Agency for Research on Cancer reclassified TCDD a group 1 carcinogen in 1997, a classification that also includes arsenic, asbestos and gamma radiation, according to background information in the study.
The IOM’s report is the seventh update in a series requested by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and mandated by Congress.
The “upgrade” of Parkinson’s did not surprise Deborah Cory-Slechta, a professor of environmental medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, but she said the outcome could have gone either way.
Other committee findings, some confirming previously reported information, follow: