Despite all the advances that have occurred in treatment, the cure for Parkinson’s has not yet been discovered. It is already known, however, that muscle stiffness and tremors, characteristic of the disease, are caused, among others, by the degeneration of brain cells that produce dopamine – the neurotransmitter that helps control body movements. The challenge now is to find a way to recover them.
This does not mean that the treatment can be left aside, since it is through it that the symptoms are controlled, improving the patients’ quality of life. In an enlightening interview, neurologists Custódio Michailowsky and Inara Alves talk about the treatment. Check out!
How is the disease treated?
Basically and in a simplified way, Parkinson’s is treated through medications that increase the amount of dopamine in the body.
To reduce symptoms, it is also sometimes indicated to practice physical activities, such as walking or cycling. The important thing is that the exercise is always done under professional supervision to avoid accidents.
Careful eating is another medical recommendation. According to Dr. Inara Almeida, patients who tend to have constipation should prioritize a diet rich in water and fiber to facilitate digestion.
In the most serious cases, there is still the possibility of having surgery to implant electrical stimulators in the brain and thus improve movement control.
What advances have been made in treatment?
According to Dr. Custódio Michailowsky, from HAS Clínica, the biggest difference is that now there are more drugs available on the market and they have fewer side effects – which is better for patients.
Another novelty is the recognition of the importance of non-pharmacological treatment, which was previously not well understood, but is now considered essential to not only reduce symptoms, but also delay the progression of the disease.
In addition, advances in science made possible the surgical option, which came to help mainly those who are not getting the desired effects with drug treatment.
The role of the support network
As the disease tends to get worse over time, the patient may need help from family, friends or caregivers to carry out daily tasks, in addition to emotional support.
It is fundamental that the people around them are willing to provide assistance and are aware of the patients’ mental health, raising an alert in the face of signs such as social isolation and hopelessness, which indicate the need to seek psychological assistance.
You just can’t forget that to help you have to be well. Experts recommend family members and caregivers to participate in support groups, have moments of rest and leisure, talk about their difficulties and seek professional support, if necessary.
As the neurologist Custódio Michailowsky summarizes: “In general, the treatment is a very exhausting process for both the patient and the caregivers and family members, which is why psychological follow-up is sometimes necessary for everyone”.
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BALESTRINO, R.; SCHAPIRA, AHV Parkinson’s disease. Eur J Neurol, v. 27, v. 1, p. 27-42, 2019.
XU, X. et al. Exercise and Parkinson’s disease. Int Rev Neurobiol, v. 147, p. 45-75 , 2019.