Parkinson's Disease

There may be no cure, but hope isn’t lost. Your INTEGRIS neuroscientists and experts will do all they can to make your life as happy and fulfilling as possible.

Learning to live with a challenging disease.

The Basics

Parkinson’s disease can cause the muscles to tighten and become rigid, making it hard to walk and do other daily activities. People with Parkinson’s disease also have tremors and may develop cognitive problems, including memory loss and dementia.

The cause of Parkinson’s disease is mostly a mystery, but it seems to be a combination of environmental and genetic factors. Though anyone can get it, it’s most likely to strike men over age 50. When it occurs before then, it’s called early-onset Parkinson’s.

Coping with Parkinson’s

Parkinson's disease is a chronic and progressive disease, meaning it doesn't go away and continues to get worse over time. But hope isn’t lost. Your INTEGRIS physicians, neuroscientists and experts, will do all they can to forestall progression of the disease, alleviate the symptoms and make your life as happy and fulfilling as possible.

Understanding Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease symptoms usually start out mild, and then progressively get much worse. The first signs are often so subtle that many people don't seek medical attention at first. These are common early symptoms of Parkinson's disease:

  • Tremors that affect the face and jaw, legs, arms, and hands
  • Slow, stiff walking
  • Trouble maintaining balance
  • Problems with coordination
  • A stiff feeling in arms, legs, and torso area
  • Changes in handwriting

Eventually, Parkinson's disease symptoms get worse and include:

  • Depression
  • Gastrointestinal problems (like constipation)
  • Problems with urination
  • Trouble chewing and swallowing food
  • Memory loss
  • Hallucinations
  • Dementia
  • Weight loss

Parkinson’s disease can be hard to diagnose. No single test can identify it and it can be easily mistaken for another health condition.

Your doctor will usually take a medical history, including a family history to find out if anyone else in your family has Parkinson's disease. He or she will also do a neurological exam. Sometimes, an MRI or CT scan, or some other imaging scan of the brain can identify other problems or rule out other diseases.

While Parkinson's disease has no cure, treatments options can help control symptoms while medicines help to offset the loss of the chemical dopamine in the brain. Most of these medicines help manage symptoms quite successfully. Options include:

  • Medication: Including levodopa, dopamine agonists, MAO-B inhibitors and other drugs.
  • Surgical Procedures: These can include lesion surgery (pallidotomy & thalamotomy), deep brain stimulation, neural grafting and tissue transplants.
  • Rehabilitation: Many therapies can be used to alleviate symptoms or learn to live and cope with the effects of Parkinson’s, including:
    • Physical Therapy
    • Occupational Therapy
    • Speech Therapy
    • Music Therapy
  • Clinical Trials (when appropriate)

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