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Mayo Clinic Development: Device May Help Parkinsons Patients Walk

Parkinson’s Disease Treatment — Mayo Clinic

Parkinsons disease has become the second most common neurodegenerative disorder in the U.S. One million people in this country live with the disease and 60,000 more are diagnosed with it each year. Parkinsons is the 14th leading cause of death in the United States. Alzheimers disease is the only neurodegenerative disease that leads to more deaths than PD. That is why a new laser device developed by researchers at the Mayo Clinics Jacksonville, Florida site is of so much interest to so many.

What causes walking to be difficult for those with Parkinsons disease?

One of the most frustrating struggles people living with Parkinsons eventually face is simply trying to walk. As the disease progresses, people with PD must try to maintain their mobility as their legs become stiffer and their stride becomes shorter. They find themselves unable to control their own muscles.

Parkinsons causes dopamine, a key chemical in the brain, to become depleted. The loss of dopamine can lead to damage in the basal ganglia area of the brain. This is the area of the brain that is responsible for automatic movements and the tasks we do without thinking throughout the day. These include activities like standing up, walking, or getting out of bed. The damage to this area of the brain results in stiff muscles, involuntary movements, and problems with balance.

Using a mobile laser device to help Parkinsons patients walk

Video shows how the laser device helps a PD patient walk

Parkinson’s Disease Medication Triggers Destructive Behaviors

Published: 2009-04-08 – Updated: 2010-07-11Jump to:Main Digest | Publications

Synopsis:Patients receiving doses of certain drugs for Parkinson’s disease develop destructive behaviors notably compulsive gambling or hypersexuality. A new study conducted at Mayo Clinic reports that one in six patients receiving therapeutic doses of certain drugs for Parkinson’s disease develops new-onset, potentially destructive behaviors, notably compulsive gambling or hyper-sexuality.

Mayo Clinic Develops Potential New Therapy To Stop The Progression Of Parkinson’s Disease

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., and ROCHESTER, Minn., Nov. 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Mayo Clinic researchers have developed a method to reduce the production of alpha-synuclein in the brain. Alpha-synuclein is a protein that is believed to be central to the cause of Parkinson’s disease . All patients with Parkinson’s disease have abnormal accumulations of alpha-synuclein protein in the brain.

Additional audio and video resources, including excerpts from an interview with Dr. Maraganore describing the research, are available on the Mayo Clinic News Blog .

The new method involves the delivery of RNA interference compounds directly to selected areas of the brain via injection. The RNA interference compounds silence the gene that produces alpha-synuclein, according to the Mayo researchers. The study was published this month in Molecular Neurodegeneration.

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder that affects nerve cells in the part of the brain that controls muscle movement. Symptoms include tremor, slowed movement and rigid muscles. At least 1 million people in the U.S. are believed to have Parkinson’s disease, and 2 percent of the population can expect to develop the disease during their lifetime.

“While our research has not yet been tested on humans, we expect that these findings will lead to an effective treatment for slowing or even halting the progression of Parkinson’s disease,” says Demetrius Maraganore, M.D. , a Mayo Clinic neurologist.

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Before You Keep Reading

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There was a possible higher incidence of both parkinsonism and Parkinson’s disease in men and women born from 1915 to 1924.

“We have evidence to suggest that there has been a genuine increase in the risk of Parkinson’s disease,” Dr. Rodolfo Savica, the lead author and a neurologist at Mayo Clinic, said in a statement. “The trend is probably not caused merely by changes in people’s awareness or changes in medical practice over time.”

Savica cited a “dramatic change in exposure to some risk factors” in the United States. “We know that environmental agents like pesticides or smoking or other agents in the environment have changed in the last 70 years or so.”

Researchers, however, urged caution in interpreting the results, saying “the trends could be spurious and need to be confirmed in other populations.”

They also noted their study contradicts previous work in the U.S. and Canada that showed no trend and a British study that suggested a possible decline in the occurrence of Parkinson’s disease over time.

When To See A Health Care Provider

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See your health care provider if you have any of the symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease not only to diagnose your condition but also to rule out other causes for your symptoms.

Learn more about Parkinson’s disease.

MEDIA ALERT: For an interview with a Mayo Clinic expert please contact our Media Relations Newsroom., .

This article is written by Mayo Clinic Staff and can be found on mayoclinic.org with other helpful health and medical information.

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How Do I Take Care Of Myself

If you have Parkinsons disease, the best thing you can do is follow the guidance of your healthcare provider on how to take care of yourself.

  • Take your medication as prescribed. Taking your medications can make a huge difference in the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. You should take your medications as prescribed and talk to your provider if you notice side effects or start to feel like your medications aren’t as effective.
  • See your provider as recommended. Your healthcare provider will set up a schedule for you to see them. These visits are especially important to help with managing your conditions and finding the right medications and dosages.
  • Dont ignore or avoid symptoms. Parkinsons disease can cause a wide range of symptoms, many of which are treatable by treating the condition or the symptoms themselves. Treatment can make a major difference in keeping symptoms from having worse effects.

Can Parkinson’s Disease Be Cured

No, Parkinson’s disease is not curable. However, it is treatable, and many treatments are highly effective. It might also be possible to delay the progress and more severe symptoms of the disease.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Parkinson’s disease is a very common condition, and it is more likely to happen to people as they get older. While Parkinson’s isn’t curable, there are many different ways to treat this condition. They include several different classes of medications, surgery to implant brain-stimulation devices and more. Thanks to advances in treatment and care, many can live for years or even decades with this condition and can adapt to or receive treatment for the effects and symptoms.

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What Do You Know About Parkinsons Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. It develops gradually, sometimes starting with a barely noticeable tremor in just one hand. But while a tremor may be the most well-known sign of Parkinson’s disease, the disorder also commonly causes stiffness or slowing of movement.

In the early stages of Parkinson’s disease, your face may show little or no expression, or your arms may not swing when you walk. Your speech may become soft or slurred. Parkinson’s disease symptoms worsen as your condition progresses over time.

Although Parkinson’s disease can’t be cured, medications may markedly improve your symptoms. In occasional cases, your doctor may suggest surgery to regulate certain regions of your brain and improve your symptoms.

How Soon After Treatment Will I Feel Better And How Long Will It Take To Recover

Parkinson’s Disease: Mayo Clinic Radio

The time it takes to recover and see the effects of Parkinson’s disease treatments depends strongly on the type of treatments, the severity of the condition and other factors. Your healthcare provider is the best person to offer more information about what you can expect from treatment. The information they give you can consider any unique factors that might affect what you experience.

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You May Also Experience Tremors In Other Parts Of The Body

Tremors are one of the most common PD symptoms, and besides the hands and fingers, “it can also appear in other parts of the body, including the lower lip, jaw or leg,” according to the Parkinson’s Foundation. These tremors can impair motor coordination and make everyday activities, such as dressing, shaving, and eating, a challenge for PD patients. However, there’s one silver lining for those who suffer from the symptom: “People with resting tremor usually have a more slowly progressing course of illness than people without tremor,” the Parkinson’s Foundation explains.

Parkinson’s tremors typically affect just one side of the body, especially early in the course of the disease. However, over time, both sides may become affected.

How Does This Condition Affect My Body

Parkinsons disease causes a specific area of your brain, the basal ganglia, to deteriorate. As this area deteriorates, you lose the abilities those areas once controlled. Researchers have uncovered that Parkinsons disease causes a major shift in your brain chemistry.

Under normal circumstances, your brain uses chemicals known as neurotransmitters to control how your brain cells communicate with each other. When you have Parkinsons disease, you dont have enough dopamine, one of the most important neurotransmitters.

When your brain sends activation signals that tell your muscles to move, it fine-tunes your movements using cells that require dopamine. Thats why lack of dopamine causes the slowed movements and tremors symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

As Parkinson’s disease progresses, the symptoms expand and intensify. Later stages of the disease often affect how your brain functions, causing dementia-like symptoms and depression.

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Stooping Or Hunching Over

Are you not standing up as straight as you used to? If you or your family or friends notice that you seem to be stooping, leaning or slouching when you stand, it could be a sign of Parkinson’s disease.What is normal? If you have pain from an injury or if you are sick, it might cause you to stand crookedly. Also, a problem with your bones can make you hunch over.

Though There’s No Cure For Pd Early Diagnosis Is Still Essential

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While unfortunately there is currently no cure for Parkinson’s that reverses the course of the disease, the Parkinson’s Foundation points out that there are many ways to treat symptoms. These may include a combination of medication, lifestyle interventions, and in some cases neurosurgery, which can be effective in reducing tremors. Reaching a diagnosis early and finding the right treatment plan for your symptoms can have a significant impact on quality of life. If you believe you may be experiencing symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, contact a healthcare provider as soon as possible.

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How Is It Diagnosed

Diagnosing Parkinson’s disease is mostly a clinical process, meaning it relies heavily on a healthcare provider examining your symptoms, asking you questions and reviewing your medical history. Some diagnostic and lab tests are possible, but these are usually needed to rule out other conditions or certain causes. However, most lab tests aren’t necessary unless you don’t respond to treatment for Parkinson’s disease, which can indicate you have another condition.

What Can I Expect If I Have This Condition

Parkinsons disease is a degenerative condition, meaning the effects on your brain get worse over time. However, this condition usually takes time to get worse. Most people have a normal life span with this condition.

You’ll need little to no help in the earlier stages and can keep living independently. As the effects worsen, youll need medication to limit how the symptoms affect you. Most medications, especially levodopa, are moderately or even very effective once your provider finds the minimum dose you need to treat your symptoms.

Most of the effects and symptoms are manageable with treatment, but the treatments become less effective and more complicated over time. Living independently will also become more and more difficult as the disease worsens.

How long does Parkinsons disease last?

Parkinsons disease isnt curable, which means its a permanent, life-long condition.

Whats the outlook for Parkinsons disease?

Parkinson’s disease isn’t fatal, but the symptoms and effects are often contributing factors to death. The average life expectancy for Parkinson’s disease in 1967 was a little under 10 years. Since then, the average life expectancy has increased by about 55%, rising to more than 14.5 years. That, combined with the fact that Parkinson’s diagnosis is much more likely after age 60, means this condition doesn’t often affect your life expectancy by more than a few years .

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Early Symptoms Of Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disease of the nervous system that affects movement. Approximately 1 million people in the U.S. are living with the disease. This year, about 60,000 more will be diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

Many people associate Parkinson’s disease with tremors or shaking of their hands. While this is a common symptom, other important symptoms include stiffness of muscles and slowing of movement.

Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease usually start on one side of the body. They usually remain worse on that side even after symptoms begin to affect both sides.

The early signs and symptoms are different for each person. The symptoms may be mild enough to go unnoticed for months or years.

Here are early symptoms that can raise concern for Parkinson’s disease:

  • Smaller handwriting
  • Family members may observe that one arm swings less on one side when walking.
  • Soft or low voice Again, it is family members or friends who may ask one to speak louder. The speech may be more of a monotone without the usual inflections.

It is the combination of several symptoms that would raise suspicion for Parkinson’s disease. A single symptom is not enough to make a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.

It is important to talk with your health care provider if you have any of the symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease. This is to properly diagnose the condition and rule out other conditions with similar symptoms.

Leonardo Fugoso, M.D., is a neurologist in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

How Is It Treated And Is There A Cure

Myths and Misconceptions About Parkinson Disease Treatment

For now, Parkinsons disease is not curable, but there are multiple ways to manage its symptoms. The treatments can also vary from person to person, depending on their specific symptoms and how well certain treatments work. Medications are the primary way to treat this condition.

A secondary treatment option is a surgery to implant a device that will deliver a mild electrical current to part of your brain . There are also some experimental options, such as stem cell-based treatments, but their availability often varies, and many aren’t an option for people with Parkinsons disease.

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What You Can Do

As of 2021, there is no definite cure for Parkinsons disease. There is also no definite known cause. Its likely due to a combination of an individuals susceptibility and environmental factors. Most cases of Parkinsons disease happen without a genetic link.

According to research published in 2012, only report having a family member with the disease. Many toxins are suspected and have been studied, but no single substance can be reliably linked to Parkinsons.

However, research is ongoing. Its estimated that

What Tests Will Be Done To Diagnose This Condition

When healthcare providers suspect Parkinsons disease or need to rule out other conditions, various imaging and diagnostic tests are possible. These include:

New lab tests are possible

Researchers have found possible ways to test for possible indicators or Parkinsons disease. Both of these new tests involve the alpha-synuclein protein but test for it in new, unusual ways. While these tests cant tell you what conditions you have because of misfolded alpha-synuclein proteins, that information can still help your provider make a diagnosis.

The two tests use the following methods.

  • Spinal tap. One of these tests looks for misfolded alpha-synuclein proteins in cerebrospinal fluid, which is the fluid that surrounds your brain and spinal cord. This test involves a spinal tap , where a healthcare provider inserts a needle into your spinal canal to collect some cerebrospinal fluid for testing.
  • Skin biopsy. Another possible test involves a biopsy of surface nerve tissue. A biopsy includes collecting a small sample of your skin, including the nerves in the skin. The samples come from a spot on your back and two spots on your leg. Analyzing the samples can help determine if your alpha-synuclein has a certain kind of malfunction that could increase the risk of developing Parkinsons disease.

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Who Does It Affect

The risk of developing Parkinsons disease naturally increases with age, and the average age at which it starts is 60 years old. Its slightly more common in men or people designated male at birth than in women or people designated female at birth .

While Parkinsons disease is usually age-related, it can happen in adults as young as 20 .

What Medications And Treatments Are Used

Parkinson

Medication treatments for Parkinsons disease fall into two categories: Direct treatments and symptom treatments. Direct treatments target Parkinsons itself. Symptom treatments only treat certain effects of the disease.

Medications

Medications that treat Parkinsons disease do so in multiple ways. Because of that, drugs that do one or more of the following are most likely:

Several medications treat specific symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Symptoms treated often include the following:

  • Erectile and sexual dysfunction.
  • Hallucinations and other psychosis symptoms.

Deep brain stimulation

In years past, surgery was an option to intentionally damage and scar a part of your brain that was malfunctioning because of Parkinsons disease. Today, that same effect is possible using deep-brain stimulation, which uses an implanted device to deliver a mild electrical current to those same areas.

The major advantage is that deep-brain stimulation is reversible, while intentional scarring damage is not. This treatment approach is almost always an option in later stages of Parkinson’s disease when levodopa therapy becomes less effective, and in people who have tremor that doesnt seem to respond to the usual medications.

Experimental treatments

Researchers are exploring other possible treatments that could help with Parkinsons disease. While these arent widely available, they do offer hope to people with this condition. Some of the experimental treatment approaches include:

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