Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative neurological disorder that affects more than 10 million people in the world, according to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation. Despite this sobering statistic, there is good news. Progress is being made in the area of Parkinson’s disease (PD) research. Doctors and scientists are hopeful that one day soon they will know the exact causes of this disease and how to prevent or even cure it.
April is National Parkinson’s Month. It’s a good time to take a look at some of the more recent advances that have been made in the fight against this progressive disease.
Recently Approved Therapies for Parkinson’s Disease
According to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, the following medications have been approved within the last few years to treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease:
- Rytary. This capsule helps to limit the tremors, stiffness, and overall slowness that people at various stages of Parkinson’s disease experience.
- Duopa. This medication infuses directly into the small intestine instead of the stomach, which is known to have poor absorption in individuals with Parkinson’s. Like Rytary, it also limits motor symptoms.
- Nuplazid. Approved just last year, Nuplazid helps to limit the delusions and hallucinations that some advanced Parkinson’s disease patients experience.
- Northera. Dizziness is a common symptom of Parkinson’s disease. Northera can help regulate blood pressure to avoid hypertension and fainting spells.
Developing Ways to Treat Parkinson’s Disease
Researchers continue to explore new ways for treating people with Parkinson’s disease. This quick overview will provide you with more insight in to how scientists are developing advanced treatments to improve the quality of life for people with Parkinson’s disease.
- Fetal cell transplantation. This medical procedure involves the implantation of fetal cells in the brains of individuals diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Scientists believe that these cells can replace cells that aren’t producing enough dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, meaning it helps transmit signals within the brain. Lower levels of dopamine mean that the brain can’t fully function, and impaired movement may be a result. As with all medical treatments, there is certain risk with fetal cells. They may increase the involuntary muscle movements of people with Parkinson’s disease. There are also moral implications with the use of fetal cells for medical treatment, which is why fetal cell transplants are so controversial.
- Stem cells. Known as the “parent cells” of the body, stem cells can transform in to any type of cell. Scientists believe that they can turn into cells that produce dopamine, which is why they are an important part of Parkinson’s disease research. Like fetal cells, stem cells may also cause involuntary movements. There are also moral and ethical arguments surrounding this type of research.
- Gene therapy. We already know that dopamine-producing cells are helpful in warding off Parkinson’s disease. Researchers are continuously working on ways to encourage cells to produce more of the neurotransmitter in the brain. Scientists and doctors believe that if enough dopamine is present in the brain, the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease can be alleviated and perhaps even prevented.
Assisted Living to Support People with Parkinson’s Patients
Adults coping with Parkinson’s disease often turn to an assisted living community as a solution for a loved one’s care. From a barrier-free environment to nutritious meals and wellness programs, an assisted living community can help people with PD live their best life.
Contact the Five Star Senior Living residence nearest you for more information about support groups and assisted living options.