HealthONE - April 28, 2022

Every April, those impacted by Parkinson’s Disease (PD) dedicate the month to sharing information and dispelling myths about the movement disorder. PD affects more than one million Americans and more than six million worldwide. The experts at the Swedish Neuro Network have pulled together the top five things you should learn to #KnowMorePD.

  1. It affects nearly one million Americans-- more than the combined number of those with multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease)
  2. The cause is unknown. However, experts have determined some factors that place people at a higher risk of developing the disease: genetics, environment, age (mostly 50+ but can develop anytime between 35 and 85), gender (men are 1.5 times more likely), race (more Caucasian than other races).
  3. It is classified as a neurodegenerative movement disorder. Parkinson’s Disease occurs when the brain cells that make dopamine (a chemical that coordinates movement) stop working properly or die. While movement symptoms are most common, non-movement symptoms also occur and can be more problematic. As a neurodegenerative disorder, many patients develop symptoms slowly and they worsen over time.
  4. No two people have the same symptoms. Symptoms vary from person to person and the progression of the disease is unique to each patient. Some lesser-known early symptoms include loss of smell of foods like bananas, dill pickles and licorice, as well as progressively smaller handwriting. Other common symptoms include:
    1. Tremors (mainly at rest)
    2. Trouble moving or walking (a feeling of having your feet “stuck to the floor”)
    3. Limb rigidity
    4. Walking problems
    5. Cognitive changes
    6. Mood disorders
    7. Fatigue
    8. Sleep disorders
    9. Lightheadedness
  5. There is no cure. While there is no cure for PD, management of the disease has advanced in recent years. Because PD is unique to each patient, treatment plans should be customized to each patient’s needs. The team at the Swedish Neuro Network works collaboratively to create PD management plans that takes into consideration patients’ unique symptoms, progression, lifestyle, medical history and needs. Treatment options include:
    1. Lifestyle changes: rest, diet, exercise, stress and depression management, home safety
    2. Medications: medications are available to help manage symptoms
    3. Therapies: physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, nutritionists help improve quality of life
    4. Surgery: advanced surgical treatments such as deep brain stimulation (DBS) are available with the Swedish Neuro Network. DBS uses tiny wires placed deep in the brain to emit electrical pulses that lessen tremors incidence and severity

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with PD or has been experiencing symptoms that could be related to the disease, it’s important to contact a provider who specializes in the neurological disease. These experts have dedicated their careers to advancing PD treatment and improving the lives of those with PD and their families. To learn more about diagnosis, management and treatment with the Swedish Neuro Network, visit us online at SwedishHospital.com/neuro or to find a physician call (303) 575-0055