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What are the Different Kinds of Parkinson's Treatments?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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Parkinson's treatments can be divided into medications, surgeries, and physical and occupational therapies. A typical treatment regimen will include a mixture of treatments and the approach to treatment will evolve over time as the patient starts responding to treatment. For patients with Parkinson's disease, treatment is a lifelong commitment and patients should plan on seeing a neurologist regularly to monitor the progress of this disease and address complications and new symptoms as they develop.

This degenerative neurological disease involves damage to the areas of the brain responsible for regulating and controlling movement. Production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter needed to coordinate movement, declines, and patients develop tremors, poor motor control, and a shuffling walk. Over time, cognitive impairments like memory loss and confusion can develop. By providing treatment early, the progress of the disease can be slowed.

One important aspect of Parkinson's treatment is physical and occupational therapy. These Parkinson's treatments are designed to help patients develop and retain motor skills. Patients work through exercises under supervision and can learn to use assistive devices like walkers and canes to complete daily tasks more safely. Such exercises will not stop the neurological damage from occurring, but they can increase comfort and mobility.

Medications used as Parkinson's treatments include dopamine agonists to increase sensitivity to dopamine, allowing patients to make more use of their limited dopamine supplies, and a medication called levodopa. While this medication is standard in Parkinson's treatment, it can have long term complications including causing movement disorders, and the patient's medications will need to be adjusted periodically to reduce the risk of developing complications and other problems.

Finally, there are surgical options available as Parkinson's treatments. Surgeries will not cure the disease but they can be useful when symptoms become highly disabling. Deep brain stimulation and ablation can both be used to target areas of the brain damaged by the disease so they will stop sending mixed signals to the body. A procedure called a pallidotomy can also be beneficial in the treatment of Parkinson's in some patients. This procedure includes removing part of the basal ganglia, a group of nuclei within the brain associated with motor function.

Every patient is different, and Parkinson's treatments will need to be tailored to the patient. What works well in one person may fail in another, and there is no single standard for treatment. Thorough evaluation is conducted before any treatment is started to establish a baseline, and followups will include repeat testing.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
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