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Parkinson’s Symptoms May Help to Judge Ability to Do Daily Tasks

motor skills

The clinical symptoms experienced by people with Parkinson’s disease, like dyskinesia or postural instability, may help to distinguish and group patients whose ability to perform daily activities are more or less affected, a new study suggests.

These findings were detailed in, “Can We Predict the Motor Performance of Patients With Parkinson’s Disease Based on Their Symptomatology?,” a study published in Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology.

Parkinson’s is characterized by motor symptoms like tremor, slowness of movement (bradykinesia), uncontrolled involuntary movement (dyskinesia), and postural instability, as well as by non-motor symptoms like sleep problems and cognitive decline.

These symptoms affect to differing degrees a person’s ability to go about activities of daily life. But currently there is no way of knowing how a person’s symptoms, taken together, correlate with an ability to perform daily tasks requiring motor skills.

To investigate this, researchers at the Université de Sherbrooke, in Canada, assessed symptoms and motor performance in a group of 115 Parkinson’s patients, mean age of 67, without psychosis and who could walk without assistance. A group of 69 elderly individuals without this disease, matched by age and sex, served as controls.

At examination, patients were asked to take their regular medication and were equipped with a suit containing 17 sensors to objectively measure their motor symptoms.

All were then asked to perform three motor tasks: rising from a chair, walking, turning, sitting down (the Timed-Up and Go, or TUG, test), eating soup, and inserting pins into a board using both hands, alternately, for 30 seconds (the Purdue Pegboard test). They also answered a questionnaires providing socio-demographic data, as well as information about their cognitive health and quality of life.

Based on patients’ performance on the three motor tasks, researchers broke them into four groups: those within normal range for all tasks (group 1), those whose fine motor skills (or dexterity) were slightly affected (group 2), those mainly affected on the TUG test (suggesting limited mobility; group 3), and patients affected in all these activities (group 4).

Notably, some symptoms and medications were significantly different among groups, including postural instability, dyskinesia, bradykinesia, rigidity, freezing of gait, and the use of amantadine (marketed as Gocovri, among other brand names).

An increase in postural instability was found to be linked to a four to nine times greater likelihood of poor performance in the TUG test or in all activities (assignment to groups 3 or 4), the researchers reported. Low-to-moderate dyskinesia increased the chances of being in the normal group (relative to the groups 2 or 3, those slightly affected in fine motor tasks or mainly affected during TUG).

Higher levels of rigidity increased the likelihood of being affected in all activities (group 4).

Amantadine as part of a treatment regimen was seen to lower the risk of being in the group 3 (limited mobility).

The model showed a good accuracy overall, being able to place 76% of patients in their correct motor group based solely on their symptoms and medication. But researchers suggest that the grouping of patients according to their motor performance on tests could be further refined; the soup eating test, for instance, was not seen to be relevant in this classification.

Still, “this study demonstrated that it is possible to predict the mobility performance of any patient, based on personal clinical features,” the researchers wrote.

“[T]hese results appear promising, and may lead to more personalized treatment by identifying and targeting symptoms that specifically impede a particular patient’s motor performance,” they concluded.

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Brian Grant Foundation Launches Online Education Program for Exercise Pros

Grant's Army

The Brian Grant Foundation (BGF) has opened a new online education program that seeks to help exercise professionals provide safe and effective classes for Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients.

Called Grant’s Army, the program features a compilation of cutting-edge PD exercise research, case studies of exercise programs nationwide, and stories about patients who use fitness classes to help deal with symptoms. There also are video tutorials demonstrating activities known to help patients manage the neurodegenerative disorder that affects about seven to 10 million people globally.

“Research has found that exercising on a consistent basis is one of the best tools that people with Parkinson’s can use to manage symptoms of their disease,” Katrina Kahl, the foundation’s executive director, said in a press release. “Our goal with Grant’s Army is to ensure that exercise professionals are equipped with knowledge of evidence-based activities that are safe for people with Parkinson’s, and have been shown to effectively manage the symptoms.”

Exercise is important for those living with PD because it helps maintain balance, mobility and the ability to perform daily tasks. Researchers have found that patients who exercise at least 2.5 hours weekly also experience a slower decline in quality of life.

Specifically, research has indicated that exercise can lessen PD-associated tremor and improve gait, balance, flexibility, grip strength and motor coordination. Exercise also may improve cognition and lessen depression and fatigue, but studies in these areas remain ongoing.

A Grant’s Army’s patient profile features former pickup basketball player, long-distance swimmer and marathon runner Dale Moss, who experienced improvements in gait and balance after incorporating more Parkinson’s-specific exercises into his fitness routine.

Living with PD for about a decade, Moss enjoys the Parkinson’s fitness program at Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital in Illinois, where he has participated in clinical trials and had deep brain stimulation surgery (DBS) three years ago. DBS is a neurosurgical procedure in which doctors implant thin metal wires in the brain that send electrical pulses to help control some motor symptoms.

“I’m not always as steady as I want to be,” Moss stated on a program webpage. “These days I’m more focused on exercises that target Parkinson’s rather than doing some of those more grandiose events I used to do in the past. That’s the direction I’m going now athletically. I know that I need to be working out every day.”

He said he focuses on exercises such as squats, lunges and those that help improve balance. “These are the types of exercises that will help improve my quality of life and make it easier to do things like get up out of chairs.”

With a focus on PD exercise, nutrition and emotional health programs, the 20-year-old Brian Grant Foundation offers evidence-based tools to enhance patients’ well-being. Since 2016, the BGF has been training exercise experts on activities specifically for individuals with Parkinson’s. Its Exercise for Parkinson’s training program for professionals is offered online as well as in person.

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Student Scholar Program at Louisiana Tech Connects Parkinson’s Patients to Resources

Louisiana Tech PD program

Through Louisiana Tech University‘s (LTU) Student Scholar program, participants are both learning and teaching others about Parkinson’s disease (PD) and available support.

Lauren Tompkins is one of two students currently in the program at LTU’s Parkinson Resource Center (PRC), which aims to promote a healthy PD community by connecting people, programs, ideas and resources. A sophomore nursing student, Tompkins works with the area patient community.

“We’re just trying to get resources to the community and to people in the area with Parkinson’s,” Tompkins said in a press release.

The program gives students hands-on experience caring for those with the progressive disorder, which affects seven to 10 million individuals globally.

“We want to impact those who will be our future nurses caring for people with Parkinson’s disease,” said Donna Hood, who, along with fellow LTU professor Tara Haskins, directed the PRC’s formation. “What we found is folks with Parkinson’s disease are very often hungry for resources. Our students have been great about helping to put those resources into the hands of the people who reach out to us.”

The students spend time learning as much as possible about resources specific to the complex condition that affects each patient differently. The program’s PRC office abounds with educational books, pamphlets and other materials.

“It starts with education,” Hood said. “If they’re going to connect folks with Parkinson’s to resources, they need to know the resources. They would go in and spend a couple of hours a week listening to webinars, reading and reviewing.”

Near the PRC is the university’s Lambright Sports and Wellness Center, where Parkinson’s-related activities such as Rock Steady Boxing take place. Exercise is important for PD patients because it helps maintain balance, mobility and the ability to perform daily routines. Student Scholar participants volunteer with Rock Steady Boxing, a program that uses a non-contact boxing-based fitness curriculum to help slow Parkinson’s and enable better disease symptom management. The PRC also has launched a PD dance program.

“More and more people are affected by [Parkinson’s] than we realize,”  Tompkins said. “It’s not really taught that much in other schools. It’s important for nursing students and biology students, speech pathology students and kinesiology students just to get a little insight about the disease so they know what to expect and what to tell patients.”

Hood said many area PD patients are in need of resources, and that the Student Scholar program and other PRC efforts are helping to remedy that.

“They don’t have ready access right now, but through Louisiana Tech and our collaborative effort, we can really grow those resources, and we can see that happening,” she said.

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Is My Parkinson’s Honeymoon Over?

Parkinson's honeymoon

When I started writing this column, I was having a pity party and was in a bad place. Wanting to reflect positivity, I decided to stop writing until I had a better frame of mind.

Why was I feeling sorry for myself?

More than four years have passed since my Parkinson’s diagnosis. I didn’t realize how good I had it then. I remember that previously, my deteriorating symptoms would cause me to tell myself that if it didn’t get worse, I could handle it. Recently, however, it seems that many of my symptoms, especially the non-motor ones, are worsening.

My balance is worsening such that I feel unsteady when walking in narrow areas with crowds. I frequently cough and choke on my food. I gag when I take pills and supplements. People ask me to repeat myself more often. It seems as though I am slurring my speech. Anxiety frequently visits me, something I never experienced prior to my diagnosis.

I can’t seem to find the right combination of medications, despite working on that for almost two years. Much trial and error have followed, as I test whether it’s better to take my medications before or after a meal, and change or add new medicines. I must be weaned off some drugs, while others must be increased for six to eight weeks to test therapeutic benefit. Another person with Parkinson’s coined the term “tweaking and seeking” to describe this lengthy and frustrating process.

Based on my experiences and what I have heard from others with Parkinson’s, it seems as though we must choose our poison. For example, do I prefer dyskinesia induced by carbidopa-levodopa or bradykinesia, the main symptom for which I take that medication?

About that Parkinson’s honeymoon

A friend mentioned to me that he is considering deep brain stimulation surgery because he feels that his Parkinson’s honeymoon is over. I had never heard the term “honeymoon” related to Parkinson’s, so I did some Googling, wondering if my honeymoon period was also coming to a close.

In general, the first stage of the disease is a honeymoon period that lasts up to eight years, during which patients can live what’s practically a normal life, according to Parkinson Québec. It also is the stage during which treatment is most noticeably effective.

When I started to write about the honeymoon ending for me, I realized that kind of negative thinking wouldn’t help me. Leaving this column unfinished for a few weeks was a good decision. I have come back to it refreshed and with that bad place behind me.

Although my symptoms may be worsening and new ones may be appearing, I refuse to go down without a fight. Speech therapy and an assessment by a therapist certified by Parkinson Wellness Recovery are on my list of next steps. Medical marijuana, which is legal in New York for Parkinson’s patients, is something I also am considering.

It’s therapeutic to have a plan with a course of action, and I now have a renewed sense of hope. My Parkinson’s second honeymoon is just beginning!

Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” ―Harriet Beecher Stowe

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Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

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Watch Out for Those Good Days!

good days

“Oh my gosh! The presentation was amazing. And I’m not just saying that because I’m your partner.”

It was my first presentation about my experience with Parkinson’s, and it flowed smoothly. It had been a long time since I was in front of an audience, reaching out and connecting. Time was suspended, and I found my bliss again. I was bounding around the house like a young boy who had gotten his first bike for Christmas.

Riding the wave of unbridled enthusiasm, I said, “Now there is nothing stopping Dr. C from becoming famous!” I turned my head slightly and gave my partner a wry smile. My partner gave me “the look.”

The next day, I crashed emotionally and physically because I had let the excitement of the previous day run free without restraint, to the point where the consequences were unhealthy — the opposite of what the bliss experience should provide. I know I’m supposed to watch out for those good days because they will sneak up on me.

Threshold management is the practice of calming emotional input before thinking or reacting to that input. This calming practice helps to prevent a buildup of emotional energy that can toss someone over the threshold.

My previous columns have focused on emotions like irritability and anger. Getting overly excited about good things in life can create just as many problems as getting worked up about bad ones. If I keep threshold management practices in place during a good day, then the crash doesn’t have negative consequences.

Exploring the possibility of discovering new, early Parkinson’s symptoms continues to be of major concern to me. In some Parkinson’s patients, emotional signal input is heightened, or the brain’s normal filtering mechanisms are diminished, causing the emotional signal to appear heightened.

Parkinson’s patients can have one or more of the following: depression, anxiety, and impulse control. With the recent increase in the severity of my symptoms, I now get surges of depression, anxiety, and an annoyingly loud startle response. Absurdly, I was startled the other day by a loud crash from a blob of shampoo falling from soapy hair and hitting the shower floor.

Prior to Parkinson’s, I had no history of these emotional responses. Exaggerated input on good days is my new life. I feel like I’ve gone past the borders of my wellness map. I am taking my explorer’s machete out of the toolkit and blazing a path to new wellness practices.

In addition to practicing threshold management to keep excitement from running rampant, two other practices help me to stay balanced during the good times. The first is, “Don’t chase after the blissful feelings.” The second is, “Accept the good day as it presents itself and channel your energy accordingly.” Part of what fuels my excitement running rampant is chasing after it because I want it to last longer.

An interesting phenomenon occurs during good days: My Parkinson’s symptoms are less severe, sometimes strikingly so. I noticed this with other pleasure-related experiences as well, such as enjoyment from creativity, an excellent movie, or a romantic evening with my partner.

The positive effects of bliss are more powerful and longer lasting. Even so, all of my pursuit of blissful feelings results in negative consequences. Chasing things that feel good is composed of habitual thought and action. It can be changed.

We all have different things that we do to help us feel better. Maybe it’s a hot shower with the warm water massaging sore muscles. Or it might be a good book at night where we can escape into the writer’s world. It becomes a problem when chasing after feeling good replaces constructively changing thought and action to become more open to experiencing well-being moments.

This is not easy. It’s not about perfect abstinence. It’s about paying attention to that big neon sign that says, “Caution! Chasing risk ahead.”

One of my rules regarding human change is that you can’t change something into nothing. If you’re seeking to remove a behavior — chasing after feeling good, for example — it is difficult to be successful if you’re just asking the behavior to be gone. Once the behavior is gone, there is a void, an empty space where a thought or action response used to go. If another thought or action is not put into that void, then the old thought and action will return more quickly than you can snap your fingers.

Fortunately, seeking acceptance offers us just what we need: The good days can be handled in the same way that we handle the bad ones. We calmly accept what the good days bring just like we calmly accept the bad ones. It’s a pathway full of possibilities.

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Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

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Weight Loss and Parkinson’s Disease

weight loss

Dad used to tell us that he has two sets of clothes: a normal set and a set of “skinny clothes” that emerge when he gets sick.

Dad was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in his 30s, and the illness caused him to lose a startling amount of weight. He was thin to begin with, but the disease found ways to take more away.

Ulcerative colitis became more manageable for my dad as time moved forward. He put on a healthy amount of weight and chose his food based on desire rather than necessity. With the help of my mom and his friends, he was able to nurse himself back to health.

But for the next 34 years, his two sets of clothing would hang in the corner of his bedroom closet because he never was certain when his health might change. Today, Parkinson’s disease is back to challenge this strategy. And Dad’s skinny clothes are making an appearance.

Causes of weight loss in Parkinson’s disease

Weight loss in relation to Parkinson’s disease can occur for a number of reasons. Decreased appetite, additional energy output, and changes in digestion can slow your food intake. And this ultimately can cause a shift in body weight.

It makes sense, really. Dad’s tremors cause him to expend energy 24 hours a day. That’s a substantial amount of time that is spent in motion. And the body needs fuel to maintain this motion.

Dad seems to eat about the same amount, but what he chooses to eat has changed. My little sister makes sure there’s a constant supply of densely packed foods, such as avocados. They juice every morning, squeezing the nutrients out of a shocking amount of produce.

Sometimes I giggle to see him eating a midnight bowl of ice cream or a handful of chocolate. Weight loss almost seems like an opportunity to eat his favorite treats. Dad looks thin, but his doctor seems to think his weight is stable.

Combating weight loss

In a society where weight loss ads litter social media platforms, it is easy to think that weight loss is a good thing. And it can be. But when uncontrolled, one risks becoming nutritionally deficient. And this ultimately prevents the body from using the building blocks it needs to keep healthy.

According to Parkinson’s News Today‘s Patricia Inacio, extreme weight loss can cause dementia, increased dependency care, and a shorter life expectancy. A study Inacio highlighted evaluated several Parkinson’s patients and found that weight loss might be able to point doctors toward an early PD diagnosis. Furthermore, counteracting weight loss might lessen disease-related outcomes.

Whatever doctors continue to discover, managing weight loss appears to be an important element of Parkinson’s. And it’s a common one, too!

Dad’s skinny clothes

More than six years have passed since my dad’s Parkinson’s diagnosis. The journey has been choppy, inconsistent, and filled with color. New challenges always seem to emerge. The disease never slows, but my dad is just as quick to fight back. His adaptability and determination are unmatched.

Today, his pants hang a bit loose around his skinny legs. But the muscles still ripple. His normal clothes have been collecting dust in the back of his closet for a while.

Christmas might be a time when those sizes shift completely, making skinny the new normal. But he’s strong. He spends three days of every week at Rock Steady Boxing, preparing himself to better challenge his disease.

During a recent visit to the gym, emotions bubbled to the surface. I had never seen him so committed to tackling an obstacle. And with great effort comes great change.

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Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

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Feeling Alone with Parkinson’s Disease

alone

We’ve all been alone. We’ve all felt alone. And we all know there is a difference between the two.

Being alone is having no one around to laugh with, to cry with, or to be with us when we need them. Feeling alone can happen in a coliseum, surrounded by thousands of people.

When we feel alone, it is hard to pull ourselves out of the pit. We withdraw and separate ourselves from others. Feeling alone lends itself to isolation.

With Parkinson’s disease, it is easy to sink into loneliness. We convince ourselves that no one wants to spend time with us because they don’t understand us or what we’re going through. That’s not always true. Sometimes it can be that another’s perception of what is going on with us is different than what is really happening. But we are convinced that they don’t understand our plight in life.

Let’s say they don’t understand.

Others can’t see when we shake on the inside. And when we shake on the outside, they only see half of it. We don’t always think clearly or speak loudly enough to be heard or understood. Newly impaired vision may prevent us from seeing what they do. That frustrates them. They don’t know when the pain becomes unbearable.

It they can’t see what is affecting us, how can we expect them to understand?

It is up to us to educate others about this disease. We have to help them understand that we aren’t the same as we once were. Few people are, but Parkinson’s can accelerate that reality. It changes us emotionally and mentally, as well as physically. We can’t do things as quickly as we once did. We can’t do some things at all anymore. Like writing. Or jogging around the park with a friend. Or eating without needing someone to cut up our food. Parkinson’s affects our ability to finish sentences and keep up with conversations.

It is up to us to tell others how we are being affected by this disease. If we don’t, who will? We can’t expect others to understand unless we intentionally begin sharing. And if they still can’t — or won’t — understand, we’ve done all we can do.

We must move forward, knowing that we are in this together. We are never alone.

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Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

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Acorda Launches Online Tool to Help Parkinson’s Patients Discuss ‘Off Episodes’

sex-related differences

To help Parkinson’s patients identify and discuss their “off episodes” — the return of disease symptoms — with healthcare providers, Acorda Therapeutics is offering a new online tool.

Called the “Do Tell” Your Doctor Tool, the questionnaire is used to record such episodes, which can be hard to identify because these episodic symptoms and their frequency vary for each patient. Lack of awareness makes it difficult for patients to talk about off periods with medical professionals, and family and friends.

The questionnaire provides a visual guide and glossary to help patients recognize and document symptoms. It’s hosted by Live Well. Do Tell., an Acorda initiative that aims to address barriers that Parkinson’s patients and their caregivers face in communicating motor and non-motor symptoms.

Patients generally have a hard time explaining their off periods during doctor’s visits, resulting in missed opportunities for discussion, said Ron Cohen, Acorda’s president and CEO.

“We expect the ‘Do Tell’ Your Doctor Tool to increase effective communication between [people with Parkinson’s] and their healthcare providers, thereby enhancing their ability to optimize therapeutic outcomes,” said Cohen, MD, in a news release.

Parkinson’s is characterized by the lack of a brain signaling molecule called dopamine, which leads to tremors, stiffness, and slowness. Theoretically, replacing the missing dopamine would be an ideal way to treat the disease. But the molecule is too big to cross the blood-brain barrier, so a dopamine precursor called levodopa is used instead. When levodopa becomes dopamine inside the brain, Parkinson’s motor problems subside.

However, long-term use causes these beneficial effects to wear off before a new levodopa dose can be taken. That’s when symptoms re-emerge. Such off episodes can be offset to a certain degree by increasing either the levodopa dosage or the dosing frequency but doing so may cause dyskinesia — uncontrolled and abnormal movements. Other agents, including carbidopa, in combination with levodopa can reduce or help manage off episodes.

As for the online tool, it was adapted from a clinically validated questionnaire developed by Duke University with help from a multidisciplinary steering committee of Parkinson’s disease community leaders. It also underwent testing at InMotion, an Ohio wellness center that offers free evidence-based exercise and education programs and other support to Parkinson’s patients and their caregivers.

Using the tool, patients identify and rank symptoms. Their answers are then used to produce a tailored “word cloud” that delineates the symptoms and how troublesome they are at a glance.

“This tool will be a valuable resource to help improve conversations between people with Parkinson’s, their care partners and healthcare providers,” said Karen Jaffe, who has Parkinson’s and is a member of the Live Well. Do Tell. steering committee and the InMotion board. “We were excited to offer our input on this important tool to ensure it is user-friendly and serves the needs of our community.”

About one million U.S. residents, and 10 million people globally live with Parkinson’s disease. Some 40% of U.S. patients experience off periods within five years of starting treatment.

Acorda Therapeutics is the developer of Inbrija (CVT-301), an inhaled formulation of levodopa.

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Middle-aged People Have Up to 20-Year Window to Reduce PD Risk, Oxford Health Policy Report Says

Oxford Health Policy Forum

In calling for a public health campaign to promote a brain-healthy lifestyle, an Oxford Health Policy Forum report says people in middle age have a 10- to 20-year window of opportunity to potentially reduce the risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s (PD), or to delay progression.

“The process of neurodegeneration begins many years before symptoms appear, and it may take years for an at-risk individual to progress through the presymptomatic and prodromal disease phases until a clinical diagnosis can be made,” the report’s executive summary said.

Called “Time Matters: A Call to Prioritize Brain Health,” the report condenses published evidence and the consensus findings of a group of international multidisciplinary experts. It’s meant to encourage individuals to prioritize their own brain health, and to challenge policymakers, scientists, medical professionals, and organizations that fund research and programs to collaborate in planning for healthcare structures.

Focusing on Parkinson’s as well as Alzheimer’s disease (AD), the report summarizes key risk factors for both disorders, and discusses how lifestyle changes can improve brain health. It also explores challenges to the introduction of population screening-type programs — successful in some areas of medicine, including cancer — in neurodegenerative diseases, noting the potential for false positive test results that can cause undue anxiety.

To prepare for future scientific advances, the publication calls for continuing the search for effective diagnostic tools, biomarkers, therapeutic targets and treatments. In addition, it promotes “big data” as a way to help identify links between brain diseases and causative factors, which could advance drug target identification. The report also concludes that wearable technology could be increasingly useful in tracking disease courses and in personalized healthcare.

Because lifestyle changes have been shown to improve both cardiovascular and brain health, the report recommends wide public-health dissemination of the message, “What’s good for your heart is generally good for your brain.” And since healthcare professionals and administrators will continue to play key roles in disease management, they should make sure that individuals are referred to specialists and get follow-up care referrals that includes multidisciplinary services, holistic care, prevention information, and treatment options, the publication said.

The 47-page report also includes a host of research recommendations, including understanding that people’s awareness of their risks for neurodegenerative disease may motivate them to change behaviors. Researchers should also learn how best to support those changes, it said.

“We cannot change our genetic make-up, but we can help reduce the risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases ourselves by taking exercise, keeping socially active, eating healthily, reducing alcohol intake, stopping smoking and keeping our brains active,” Alastair Noyce, co-chair of the report’s author group, and a professor at Queen Mary University of London, said in a press release.

As people live longer, neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s are becoming more common — and presenting a growing socioeconomic burden. But such diseases are not an inevitable consequence of normal aging, said Gavin Giovannoni, author group chair and also a professor at Queen Mary.

“Planning for the healthcare structures of the future has to start now if we’re to avoid a crisis,” he said.

The report’s 10 primary writers are from the U.K., the U.S., the Netherlands, Germany, Australia, Belgium, Switzerland, and Luxembourg. It was funded through educational grants from biotechnology company Biogen and multinational healthcare company F. Hoffmann-La Roche.

The Oxford Health Policy Forum works to develop and support initiatives aimed at improving global public health, particularly in areas of unmet medical needs.

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Parkinson’s Foundation to Present Spanish-language Conference Oct. 19

Parkinson's Foundation conference

The Parkinson’s Foundation’s fourth annual Spanish-language conference, set for Oct. 19 in Norwalk, California, will provide the latest information about Parkinson’s disease treatment and management.

Called “Hacia Adelante: Navegando el Mar del Parkinson’s” (“Forward: Sailing the Parkinson’s Sea”), the free conference is for patients, families, and healthcare providers interested in learning how to live well with Parkinson’s. All sessions and activities will be conducted in Spanish.

“Parkinson’s is more prevalent in Hispanics than in any other U.S. ethnic group, but studies confirm that many Hispanics are underserved when it comes to accessing necessary Parkinson’s information, treatment and care,” Fernando Cubillos, MD, the foundation’s senior director of research programs, said in a press release.

“As part of our mission to tackle this problem head on, we’re providing this conference to better empower and serve Latinos living with the disease through expert care, education and advocacy that is patient and community centered.”

In addition to presentations by a host of expert physicians and advocates, the event will include question-and-answer sessions, community resources, exercise and dance demonstrations, live music performances, and complimentary meals and parking. Grammy and Latin Grammy award-winning music producer Sebastian Krys will talk about his experience with Parkinson’s. The conference will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the DoubleTree by Hilton, 13111 Sycamore Drive.

Conference topics were chosen by the community. They include symptom management, healthcare system navigation, exercise, remaining motivated in the face of Parkinson’s, and caregiving as a family. Register here or by calling the bilingual Parkinson’s Foundation helpline at 800-473-4636.

On a related topic, the foundation presents a new episode of the podcast, “Substantial Matters: Life and Science of Parkinson’s,” every other Tuesday. In one episode — “What We’ve Learned from the Hispanic Parkinson’s Community” — Claudia Martinez, the Hispanic outreach coordinator at the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center in Phoenix, describes the methods she uses to help Hispanic patients get the best possible care.

The most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s affects nearly 1 million U.S. residents and 10 million globally. In the United States alone, 60,000 new cases are diagnosed annually.

The Parkinson’s Foundation works to enhance patient care and advance research toward a cure.

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