Tagged with: disabilities Parkinson’s
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative brain disorder, of unknown etiology. The disease advances gradually and people may live for years with the disease. However, complications of the disease are serious and have been rated as the 14th top cause of death in the U.S.
The disease is characterized by death of the affected person’s neurons (brain cells) causing decrease in dopamine levels, a neurotransmitter, which leads to motor and non- motor symptoms.
The main symptoms, also known as ‘Parkinsonism’ include:
- Tremor- uncontrollable shaking of hands, arms, legs and jaw.
- Bradykinesia (slowness of movement) – simple everyday tasks become difficult and time consuming.
- Rigidity- Stiffness of muscles, causing pain and difficulty in movement.
As the disease progresses, symptoms may become more severe and may include:
- Postural instability: impaired posture, problem in walking, balance and turning around, leading to falls.
- Decreased automatic movements like blinking, swallowing, smiling, or swinging arms when walking.
- Dyskinesias: irregular, writhing, involuntary movements of the face, arms, legs and trunk.
- Speech problems: speaking softly, quickly and slurring.
- Difficulty in writing
- Mood disorders: anxiety, depression and irritability
- Cognitive changes:slow thought processing, language and memory difficulties, personality change
- Sleep disorders-insomnia
- Hallucinations and delusions
- Excessive sweating
- Urinary incontinence
- Loss of sense of smell
- Dizziness, blurred vision and fainting due to sudden drop in blood pressure
- Drooling or excessive saliva production
- Sexual problems
There is at present no cure for Parkinson’s disease, but medications, supportive therapies, lifestyle changes and surgical options are used to treat its symptoms to maintain the quality of life.
Medicines may help with problems in tremor, movement and walking, and surgical procedure like deep brain stimulation may provide some relief but is risky and does not prevent the disease from progressing.
Lifestyle changes includes:
Dietary Changes: Increasing the amount of fiber and fluids in your diet can help ease constipation. Green tea and caffeine found in tea and coffee may reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease.Include vitamin and calcium supplements.
A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids and eating frequent small meals, increasing the amount of salt may help deal with low blood pressure. You can consult a dietitian if necessary.
Regular Exercise: You can work with a physical therapist and learn an exercise program like aerobics, resistance training or strengthening exercises and stretching/flexibility exercises which may increase your flexibility, balance and muscle strength.
Supportive therapies may help you deal with your symptoms on a day-to-day basis:
A physiotherapist will help you relieve joint pain and muscle stiffness through exercise to make movement easier and improve balance and prevent falls, maintain your fitness and your ability to manage things on your own.
An occupational therapist can help you with your daily activities like eating, dressing, bathing, and writing and help work out practical solutions to ensure your home is safe and properly set for you like hand rails, suggest mobility aids, help you keep up with your hobbies and leisure activities so that you can maintain your independence for as long as possible.
Speech and Language Therapy:
A speech-language pathologist may help improve speech problems by teaching swallowing and speaking exercisesto strengthen your voice, control facial expression and provide assistive technology.
If you are considering these treatments, it is best to check with your health care team first.
Some types of alternate medicine that may help ease the symptoms include:
- Tai Chi
- Alexander Technique
- Yoga and Meditation
- Music or Art Therapy
- Coenzyme Q10
- Herbal and Homeopathic medicines
Living with any chronic disease can be debilitating, and at times, profoundly frustrating when the ability to carry out daily activities can become extremely time consuming. But with the care of family and friends, and sometimes support groups, you can at least maintain the quality of life.