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Parkinson’s Isn’t Always Invisible

invisible

I had breakfast with some friends today. One I hadn’t seen for six months and another for 10 years. Both of them are forever kind of friends, the sort who overlook your flaws. Flaws like Parkinson’s disease (PD).

It is rare for me to have tremors with all of the Sinemet (carbidopa-levodopa) that is in my body. But lately, I have noticed some breakthrough tremors. They don’t happen often or consistently. However, they occur frequently enough to remind me that despite medications to slow it down and a couple of deep brain stimulation surgeries to quieten the disease, it is continuing to progress. I notice it when I wave goodbye, put on my shoes, or try to pull a sweatshirt over my head. I’m aware of it when I stop abruptly during a conversation, having lost my train of thought.

I recognized the progression the other day when I walked 500 feet to a neighbor’s house. We went together to the mailboxes in our mobile home park. Before we left her house, she offered me one of her canes to use. I thought her offer was odd until I got home and realized I had been shuffling as I walked and she had noticed it. Ugh. 

Parkinson’s disease is often referred to as an invisible disease. I wish it would stay hidden.

So today, I had breakfast with friends. The tremors broke through. I was sharing something when I forgot what I was saying. My eyes became blurry and felt gritty. My hands cramped up and my fingers became painfully stiff. I had difficulty getting out of the booth we were sitting in, and when we got back to the house, I had trouble getting out of the car. My friends saw me struggling and came to my side to help.

It is hard to see the progression in yourself sometimes, especially when it happens quietly, gradually, and unassumingly.

But when you have good friends — forever friends — by your side, it makes living with the disease a little more bearable.

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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.

The post Parkinson’s Isn’t Always Invisible appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

I’m Learning Not to Make Assumptions

assumptions Journeying through Parkinson's

Sherri Journeying Through

I have a bad habit of assuming things. You would think (an assumption) that I would have learned by now, but no. 

Take today for example. 

My husband and I were at the mall this afternoon people-watching in front of the coffee shop. I watched through the glass doors as a dad bent over and tied his approximately 11-year-old son’s shoe. Attached to this boy’s belt was a knife sheath, which held a knife with about a 6-inch blade (another assumption). 

I told my husband that you’d think if that boy was old enough to be in possession of a knife like that in public, he could tie his own shoes. Then the dad stood up and the boy turned to face me head-on, and that’s when I saw it: the broken arm. It’s hard to tie shoes with a broken arm. 

You’d think I’d have learned by now, but again — no.

However, I am getting better. I’ve been praying to be redeemed from my habit of assumption, but it’s tough. I have stopped drawing conclusions right away. I can hold onto thoughts that once ran rampant, and instead, I am trying to get the whole picture, or I turn away from the “picture” entirely.

Having Parkinson’s has helped me learn this lesson. 

We can walk funny. We can talk funny. We can move all sorts of different ways. We can stop in the middle of a sentence or stop in the middle of a walk and have to be jump-started by the help of another. We know what’s happening, but the strangers who watch us most likely haven’t a clue.

They may assume we’re a tad bit tipsy, forgetful, senile. Any number of things could account for our odd behavior. Because I act the way I do (tremors, dyskinesia, dystonia, masked face, etc.), I have come to see others differently. To look past the initial assumption and see the situation for what it really is: not a spoiled child, but one with a broken arm. 

Now I need to figure out why he’s got a 6-inch knife in a leather sheath hooked to his belt. I don’t want to even think where my assumptions could take me with that one.

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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.

The post I’m Learning Not to Make Assumptions appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

The ABCs of Parkinson’s: It’s Not Just About Shaking

tremor, shaking

Sherri Journeying Through

The next letter in a series on the ABCs of Parkinson’s is “N.” This is because the disease is not just about shaking.

When the topic of Parkinson’s disease comes up, it’s often met with a misunderstanding of what it really is. People immediately think of someone who shakes, if indeed they know much about the disease at all. But that’s not what Parkinson’s is. It does entail tremors, or shaking, but it is so much more than that.

Parkinson’s is not just shaking in one or more of the extremities (hands, arms, legs, and feet). While shaking can occur in only one extremity, it also can happen with all of them. It can include other parts of the body such as the head, the neck, the “insides,” the eyelids, or the mouth.

But again, Parkinson’s is not just about shaking.

When someone sees a person flailing about as they are walking/shuffling down the street, they may assume the person may have had a bit too much to drink. This is not necessarily true. Parkinson’s may (and has been known to) take the appearance of a drunken sailor, but the flailing about is not PD. It is a side effect of the medications taken to cope with the disease. Sad, but true.

Parkinson’s disease is unpredictable. PD is not a disease you can define other to say that it is ever-changing from one person to another. You may know someone with Parkinson’s, yet you will not find another who experiences the disease in the same way. There is nothing certain about the disease. It is not predictable. 

Most people do not, and cannot, understand this often misunderstood disease. They focus on the tremors or the dyskinesia (flailing about). They do not understand it may (or may not) entail other lesser-known symptoms such as depression, apathy, constipation, and irritable bowel syndrome, drooling, and skin concerns. Other invisible symptoms can include sleep disorders, loss of smell, cognitive issues, moderate to extremely severe pain, dystonia, facial masking, visual and speech issues, mood changes, blood pressure irregularities, tripping, a shuffling gait, restless leg syndrome, and urinary dysfunctions, to name a few more. Yet, these still are not all of the symptoms.

The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are misunderstood because basically, they are not visible and therefore can’t be evidenced in most people who have PD.

We often do not believe in something we can’t see, diseases included. Many times we choose to believe a person is not struggling or suffering because we can’t see below the skin to where the real pain is occurring. That’s because Parkinson’s is not just about shaking. It’s so much more than that. 

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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.

The post The ABCs of Parkinson’s: It’s Not Just About Shaking appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

Specific Tremors, Asthma Meds Not Linked to Parkinson’s Risk, Large Study Suggests

Researchers may have discovered why certain tremors and asthma medications increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.
Their findings suggest they were caused by the underlying clinical indications that led physicians to prescribe these medications in the first place — tremors and smoking-related lung conditions — rather than the medications themselves.
Their study, “β2-adrenoreceptor medications and risk of Parkinson disease,” appeared in the journal Annals of Neurology.
A previous study, using mouse models and nationwide pharmacy data from Norway, suggested that using therapies that target the beta-2 adrenoreceptor — which is found in cells of the lung, brain, heart, skeletal muscle, and immune system — can influence the risk of developing Parkinson’s.
That study suggested that medications known to suppress the beta-1 receptor — such as propranolol, a first-line treatment for tremors — doubled the risk of Parkinson’s, while those known to activate the receptor —such as salbutamol, usually given to treat asthma and other lung diseases — decreased the risk by a third.
Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, have now evaluated whether the underlying clinical indications for the use of these medications – tremors and lung conditions – could explain these associations.
Their hypothesis was based on the fact that tremors are among the early signs of Parkinson’s, and that lung disease is more frequent in smokers than non-smokers, with several studies suggesting a link between nicotine and a lower risk of Parkinson’s.
The team analyzed the Medicare data of 28,295 U.S. Parkinson’s patients and 52,324 healthy individuals. They evaluated the effects that three medications which block the beta-2 receptor (propranolol, carvedilol, and metoprolol) and primidone (used to treat tremors) or of salbutamol and inhaled corticosteroids used for similar lung conditions — had on the risk of developing Parkinson’s.
They found that use of propranolol prior to Parkinson’s diagnosis appeared to triple risk of the disease, while use of primidone boosted the risk nine-fold. Meanwhile, the use of carvedilol and metoprolol was linked to a slightly decreased risk of Parkinson’s.
However, when researchers adjusted the data for the presence or absence of tremors, or for the use of these medications 18 months before Parkinson’s diagnosis, or when the analysis was restricted to patients with tremors, propranolol and primidone were shown to have minimal effect.
“Our results suggest that the onset of tremor in … [Parkinson’s pre-diagnostic] period may lead to propranolol use, and thereby a positive association with PD [Parkinson’s disease],” researchers wrote.
The fact that propanol and primidone – which do not suppress the beta-2 receptor – showed similar trends before and after adjustments further supports the non-association of medications that block beta-2 receptors with the risk of Parkinson’s.
The team also believes the results for carvedilol and metoprolol may be explained by their infrequent use by U.S. physicians to treat tremors.
Similarly, while salbutamol and inhaled corticosteroids were long thought to reduce the risk of Parkinson’s, the adjustment for smoking attenuated these associations, especially for salbutamol, for which the risk became close to null.
These findings highlight that, despite previous suggestions, medications that target beta-2 receptors do

Source: Parkinson's News Today

Noticing the Signs of Parkinson’s Disease in a Loved One

signs

Sherri Journeying Through

If you were to go to a Parkinson’s disease website, you’d probably find a post on signs and symptoms of PD. The problem is that it can be hard to notice the signs if you are the one with Parkinson’s disease. You may have grown so used to the symptoms that you no longer take them as something serious.

I’ve written this post for loved ones who might have a sense that something isn’t quite right with the one they love. It is a list of early signs you may notice before they do, and how you might be able to help them.

Most people notice tremors as the first symptom. However, did you know that there are other signs that someone may have Parkinson’s disease? Signs that are often overlooked even by medical doctors?

On one of my earlier visits to my neurologist, I learned that one of the very first signs of PD is depression. There was no reason for me to feel down at times like I did. However, as there are many other reasons for a person to feel down or depressed, don’t jump to conclusions that your loved one has PD. For a confirmed diagnosis, several signs or symptoms must be present. A diagnosis of PD has never been made purely because a person is depressed (that I have heard of anyhow).

There is a list of symptoms a movement disorder specialist will look for in making a correct diagnosis of PD. Shaking can be caused by other things such as a head injury, resting tremors, overextending yourself physically, prescriptions you may be taking, hypoglycemia, and more.

I remember working in my garden several years ago and not being able to smell the flowers anymore, and I didn’t understand why. Can you guess why? Yep. Little Monster took my sniffer. Every once in a while my ability to smell will resurface, and I get a good whiff of something.

Does your loved one seem to be dragging one of their feet when they walk? Are they shuffling slightly? Has one of their arms lost its swing when they walk? Do they seem stiff in their movements? You have an objective perspective and may notice these things sooner.

No one who is happy or joyful likes to be asked, “What’s wrong with you?” That can happen with an early sign of PD known as the “masked face.” Why “masked” face? Because the facial muscles have tightened and people with PD have a harder time smiling or showing emotion.

Another symptom that I struggle with is my voice getting softer, making it hard for others to hear me. I had a soft voice to begin with, and when it got softer it made it more difficult to converse. Speech and vocal exercises can be done to strengthen the vocal cords if the problem is due to PD.

If you think someone you know might have early signs of PD, you might want to approach them as if they hadn’t noticed their symptoms. For example, don’t stare at them when they are shaking and ask, “Do I make you nervous?” Ask them if they’ve noticed that their hand shakes slightly. If they bring it to your attention, encourage them to have it checked out. If they are concerned and you act like it’s nothing, especially when you notice it, coupled with other signs related to early PD, they will feel silly and may think they are imagining things.

It takes several signs or symptoms to make a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, and this should be done by a neurologist, or better, a movement disorder specialist. Everyone lives with PD differently. Some are affected more by tremors, some by stiffness, some by pain, and some deal with it all.

If you are a person with PD, what were your first signs that “all was not well?” Did you recognize the signs first or was it a friend or family member?

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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.

The post Noticing the Signs of Parkinson’s Disease in a Loved One appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

Source: Parkinson's News Today

What is Parkinson’s Disease? This is Parkinson’s Disease

Little Monster

Sherri Journeying Through

My knees are shaking and it’s not from nervousness. This is Parkinson’s disease.

Stiff muscles abound throughout my aching body. This is Parkinson’s disease.

My lips quiver, my teeth click, smiles turn into frowns. This is Parkinson’s disease.

My toes and fingers bend involuntarily because … this is Parkinson’s disease.

My legs, my arms, my sides, my back, my stomach, they can all seize up in great twisting pain for … this is Parkinson’s disease.

My voice can falter and fade, and I shout when they yell at me to “speak up” because … this is Parkinson’s disease.

I choke on my food and swallowing is becoming harder. This is Parkinson’s disease.

I can trip, I can fall, I walk like a shuffling penguin. This is Parkinson’s disease.

Writing has become difficult and frustrating. What once was legible is now a Parkinson’s “scratch.”

The “Little Monster” is to blame for most of what is wrong with me because “Little Monster” is Parkinson’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease is “Little Monster.”

The good and the bad and the happy and the sad are both a blessing and a curse because … this is Parkinson’s disease.

On one side I am almost free, and on the other, I am bound in chains because … this is Parkinson’s disease.

Confusion and some irritability can be blamed on Parkinson’s. And why not? If I must bear this crazy disease, then I ask you … why not?

Why not blame it for being snappy and silly, for running into walls and tripping over chairs, and all things else like that?

Why not blame it for everything in life gone wrong? Seems fair. It took from my life what wasn’t its to take, and it just keeps taking and taking.

Am I angry? No. I hold no grudges about that which I cannot see, and though I can see God in this world around me, I do not blame Him. I do not see Him in this hideous disease, but I see Him more clearly because of it.

I see Him because by His comfort and His care and the way He loves me through this … this Parkinson’s disease. With His strong arms and His great, matchless mercy and relentless grace.

He is in the all — His faithfulness is trustworthy. It may be because of Parkinson’s that I may suffer, but it is with hope that I endure.

And it’s because of God I live joy unspeakable — in spite of this “Little Monster” I call … Parkinson’s disease.

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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.

The post What is Parkinson’s Disease? This is Parkinson’s Disease appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

Source: Parkinson's News Today

First Parkinson’s Patient Treated with Insightec’s Incisionless Brain Therapy

Insightec

Insightec has treated the first patient in a pivotal study of its non-invasive ultrasound therapy, ExAblate Neuro, for patients with advanced Parkinson’s who have not responded to medication.

The device uses focused ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to destroy a target deep in the brain — the Vim nucleus of the thalamus — through an intact skull. This area has been identified as responsible for causing Parkinson’s tremors. The MRI technology enables physicians to guide treatment planning and deliver thermal feedback in real-time monitoring.

The therapy aims to improve motor function and treat the characteristic involuntary movements of arms and legs, which may occur as a side effect of medication, and impair patients’ quality of life and ability to perform daily activities.

In July 2016, Insightec’s therapy become the first focused ultrasound device approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of medication-resistant essential tremors with non-invasive thalamus destruction. In October 2017 the FDA granted approval to initiate the trial for these patients.

The trial (NCT03454425) evaluates the safety and effectiveness of the ExAblate System for the treatment of Parkinson’s motor features. It is currently enrolling patients who are 30 or older and have predominant motor disability from one side of the body. Insightec plans to recruit a total of 40 participants and expects to complete the research by December 2020.

“Building on the success of the incisionless focused ultrasound treatment for essential tremor, we are excited to extend its application to the debilitating effects of Parkinson’s,” Howard Eisenberg, MD, the study’s principal investigator and a neurosurgery professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, said in a press release.

Eisenberg is recognized as one of the nation’s top neurosurgeons and an expert on traumatic brain injury and the blood brain barrier.

“INSIGHTEC is committed to supporting focused ultrasound research, which is much less invasive than conventional surgery, and has the potential of improving the lives of people living with Parkinson’s,” said  Maurice R. Ferré, MD, CEO at Inisightec.

The company recently began a parallel Phase 3 trial (NCT03319485) of its MRI-guided focused ultrasound system for treating motor symptoms in Parkinson’s. It plans to recruit more than 100 patients with advanced idiopathic Parkinson’s not responding to available therapies. Patient enrollment is ongoing at sites in Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. More information is available here.

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Source: Parkinson's News Today

The Arrows of God

arrows

Sherri Journeying Through

The other day, my friend Jeanette shared a Facebook post stating that having Parkinson’s disease had changed her personality, thinking, and decision-making skills. Having Parkinson’s disease causes her anxiety and depression. And besides, she said, she liked her old personality.

How true this statement is for people having to deal with this little monster! Yes, indeed, we would love to have our “old” personalities back.

Jeanette said that she appreciates the kindness of others when they hear things come out of her mouth that should be obvious and understandable, but aren’t. She appreciates that others, aware of how Parkinson’s can affect someone, choose to overlook her words. She is grateful for their kindness when they see her do things that may seem “dumb” or hear her say something that sounds backward, or on the days when she may not know how to answer a sincere, “How are you?”

Living with this disease, she takes it one day at a time. It’s a brain disease, not like the flu, which one can hopefully sleep away. It’s not like a cold that one might be able to sneeze or cough away. It is a disease of the brain that often is intolerable, at times unpredictable, greatly misunderstood, and sadly, incurable. It is no secret that the public, by and large, is uneducated, misinformed, and unknowledgeable about Parkinson’s disease.

If you ask someone what Parkinson’s disease is, most people would likely say, “Isn’t that where you shake a lot, like Michael J. Fox?”

Yes and no.

Some people with Parkinson’s shake (tremors) and some do not. Some frequently move uncontrollably (like Michael J. Fox has been seen to do), some much less. But it doesn’t start or stop there. There are many more symptoms a person with the disease has to deal with.

Along with the things my friend mentions, people with Parkinson’s can experience some level of forgetfulness and confusion, as alluded to by her comment on Facebook about needing help with her DVD player. DVD players can be frustrating for anyone. Now add to that a person with Parkinson’s disease and it’s the makings of a major meltdown. This is especially true if the aforementioned person with the aforementioned possible meltdown has missed one or more of their much-needed anti-depressant medications. This only begins to intensify the forgetfulness and confusion, not to mention the forthcoming meltdown.

Jeanette’s son “puts on labels with arrows” to show her how to work her DVD player. I’m afraid labels wouldn’t be enough for me. I would need a full-time techie to work for me, should I lose my current personal techie (my husband).

But the arrows. I can follow arrows. I’m really good at following arrows, and when my friend wrote that her son labels her DVD player, not with just “labels,” but arrows, I had an epiphany: God has a set of arrows for each one of us. He marks our path, whether we would choose that path or not, with arrows. And the path marked with the arrows of God are arrows that are leading us out of this world. The paths we are on are leading us home. To a better place. The paths are not marked with arrows that remind us how to navigate a DVD player, but rather easy-to-follow life arrows.

As long as we follow them and don’t turn to the left or to the right, don’t make a sudden U-turn, or plant ourselves in the middle of the road in defiance, we will get home. And the One who ushers us out of this world with endless mercy and unending grace is the same One who waits to usher us into eternity. I don’t know about you, but that encourages me and gives me great hope. All we have to do is follow His arrows.

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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.

The post The Arrows of God appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

Source: Parkinson's News Today

Phase 3 Study of Exablate Neuro Ultrasound System to Treat Parkinson’s Motor Symptoms Begins

Exablate Neuro

The first patient with advanced Parkinson’s has been treated in a pivotal Phase 3 trial using MRI-guided focused ultrasound to address major motor symptoms of the disease.

The multisite, randomized, and double-blinded clinical trial (NCT03319485) is evaluating the safety and effectiveness of MRI-guided focused ultrasound delivered to affected brain areas using Insightec’s Exablate Neuro system.

It plans to enroll more than 100 patients with advanced idiopathic Parkinson’s whose disease does not respond to available therapies for motor problems or fluctuations like dyskinesia (involuntary and jerky movements), tremors, rigidity, and slowed movement.

All will be followed for at least one year to determine the investigative therapy’s effectiveness and durability, with a primary goal being changes from baseline — or study start — at three months as measured by Unified Dyskinesia Rating Scale (UDysRS) scores. Secondary outcomes will look at the safety of both the device and the nonsurgical procedure.

Patients will be randomized to either the focused ultrasound treatment or a sham procedure for an initial three months of efficacy and safety evaluations.  Patients in the sham arm will then have the opportunity to undergo the ultrasound therapy.

Because the trial is still in the blinded phase, it is not known what treatment was given this first patient enrolled at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

Results of this Phase 3 study are expected to support an application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment’s approval in these Parkinson’s patients. The Exablate Neuro system is already FDA approved to treat essential tremor in people who fail to respond to medication.

“This important pivotal study builds upon earlier work in small groups of patients to determine if focused ultrasound can be a possible treatment for Parkinson’s disease,” Michael Kaplitt, MD, PhD, a professor of neurological surgery at Weill Cornell Medicine and a neurological surgeon at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, said in a press release. “We … hope that the results will help us and the FDA determine whether this experimental therapy can be a safe and effective noninvasive option for patients who are having difficulty with medical therapy.”

Exablate Neuro is a medical device that uses focused ultrasound to target and destroy damaged tissue in deep-brain areas responsible for involuntary motor symptoms.

The MRI allows treating physicians to create a temperature map of the brain, giving them a real-time picture of the region they want to directly target with the sound waves. They then raise the acoustic energy levels to heat and destroy the disease-affected tissue. Patients are awake throughout the procedure and able to give feedback.

“The goal of the focused ultrasound treatment is to both lessen the main symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, which include tremors, rigidity, and slow movement, as well as treat the dyskinesia [involuntary movement] that is a medication side effect, so that less medication is needed,” said Howard Eisenberg, MD, chair of neurosurgery at the University of Maryland Medical Center and the study’s lead investigator.

Patients are currently being enrolled at sites in Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Contact and other information is available here.

Published results of a pilot clinical trial (NCT01772693)  in 27 patients with tremor-dominant Parkinson’s disease showed significant improvements in motor symptoms.

MRI-guided focused ultrasound eased upper-limb tremors by 62 percent from a baseline in treated patients compared with 22 percent in those given a sham procedure. On-medication median motor scores, as determined by the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS), also improved by eight points in the treated arm and by one point in the control group, the study reported.

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Source: Parkinson's News Today

Noticing the Signs of Parkinson’s Disease in a Loved One

Sherri Journeying Through

This is written for loved ones who might have a sense that something isn’t quite right with the one they care about. It is a list of early signs you may notice before your spouse, friend, child, or parent does and how you might help them.

Most people notice the tremors as the first symptom of Parkinson’s disease (PD) in someone they know. However, did you know that there are other signs that are a clue that someone may have PD? Clues that are often overlooked, even by medical doctors?

On one of my earlier visits to my neurologist, I learned one of the first signs of PD can be depression. Looking back, it was true for me. There was no reason for me to feel down or anxious, but I did. I talked to my general practitioner about it, and she was the one who first put me on an antidepressant. There are many other reasons a person can feel depressed, so don’t jump to conclusions that the one you’re concerned about has PD. For a diagnosis to be confirmed, several symptoms must be present. A diagnosis of PD isn’t made solely because a person is depressed.

So, what if they have tremors and seem down? Again, there is a list of symptoms your neurologist will look for in making a correct diagnosis of PD. Adding tremors to the mix with depression will not necessarily mean Parkinson’s disease.

Is your mate having a hard time sleeping? Restless? Tired during the day from lack of a good night’s rest? Having vivid dreams? Nightmares? Acting out while dreaming? All on a regular basis? If you are married and find yourself wanting to go to the guest room frequently because your spouse is, how shall I put this, too active in bed? It may be a cause for concern. Sleep disorders can be evidence that something may be going on.

Parkinson’s can snitch your sniffer, so your loved one may not smell things as well or at all. The ability to smell may return for the short-term at random times, though.

PD can also cause a person to drag their foot or have a slight shuffle when they walk.

No one likes people to enter the room and ask, “What’s wrong with you?” But that can happen when early signs of PD show — such as the masked face. What is “masked” face? When the muscles in the face have tightened. Because of this, people with PD have a harder time smiling or showing facial emotion. It’s also been called a stone face — showing no expression. You’ve heard the saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Well, in PD we say, “Don’t judge the mood by the face.” OK, maybe only I have said that. But it’s true.

Another symptom I struggle(d) with is a soft voice. I have a soft voice to begin with, and getting softer only served to aggravate those around me. It also makes for lousy conversation on the part of the person with PD, as no one hears you participating in the conversation, so you end up being constantly interrupted, never able to finish your sentences. Plus, well, you just don’t feel like talking at all.

It takes several signs/symptoms to make a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, and it should be done by a neurologist or a movement disorder specialist. It’s important to remember that everyone lives with PD differently. Some are affected more by tremors, some by stiffness, some by pain, and some deal with it all. And some may have some of the signs, but don’t actually have PD. Don’t make your diagnosis. Ask questions until you are satisfied with the answers, and don’t give up. We’re in this together.

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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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Source: Parkinson's News Today