Posts Tagged ‘parkinson’s’

Help for Parkinson’s Disease

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

UF&Shands, the University of Florida Academic Health Center, is the most comprehensive of its kind in the southeastern United States. The UF&Shands news release below describes a practical new resource for patients and caregivers affected by Parkinson’s disease:

University of Florida neurologist Michael Okun, M.D., has answered more than 20,000 questions from patients with Parkinson’s disease, typically not about cures or the latest treatments, but about something much simpler – how to live well with the disease. Now Okun has written a book that he hopes will help patients everywhere.

The more I talk to Parkinson’ patients, the more I realized a couple of things,” said Okun, co-director of UF Center for Movement Disorders and Neurorestoration. “Almost nothing is available to patients about basic lifestyle things in any language but English. Even in the most educated patients, who have access to everything, there are still lots of very simple things they aren’t doing. There are lots of things you can do to improve your quality of life.”

To address this need, Okun has authored a book titled “Parkinson’s Treatment: 10 Secrets to a Happier Life.” Published recently, the book is now available on Amazon and Smashwords in more than 20 languages. The e-book retails for $3.99. His goal is to reach every patient and family dealing with the disease.

Globally, about 4 to 6 million people have Parkinson’s disease, and 50,000 to 60,000 new cases are diagnosed in the United States each year, according to the National Parkinson Foundation. As people continue to live longer, the prevalence of Parkinson’s disease in the population also will increase, Okun said.

“It is really important for people to recognize this is a problem,” he said. “If you plan on living a long life, pushing up into the eighth or ninth decade, your chances of facing a disease like this are very high. You cannot escape it.”

But unlike having a disease such as Alzheimer’s, patients can live for decades with Parkinson’s — so understanding how to live well with the disease is crucial.

Some of the topics Okun covers in the book are how to prepare for hospital stays and when to take medications, as well as everyday issues such as sleeping and exercise. Chapters are also devoted to secondary problems such as depression and addiction-like symptoms in Parkinson’s patients.

“Really, these should not be secrets,” Okun said. “If you know these things, you can live a much better life with your disease.”br>
To Okun, what is perhaps most important is making the information available in languages besides English. The book was made available on both Amazon and Smashwords specifically to increase the number of possible translations. Currently, copies can be found in 20 languages, including English, Italian, German, Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese and Arabic among others.

“There isn’t any joking with Dr. Okun about the ’10 Secrets to a Happier Life’ in Parkinson’s disease,” said Muhammad Ali, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1984, in a written statement. “This book is a critical resource for Parkinson’s disease patients and families from around the world who speak different languages but suffer from very similar and often disabling symptoms.”

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Certain Foods May Cut Men’s Risk for Parkinson’s

Friday, April 20th, 2012 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

Frequent consumption of foods and drinks that are abundant in flavonoids may reduce men’s risk for Parkinson’s disease by 40 percent, according to research headed by Xiang Gao of Harvard Medical School, the Harvard School of Public Health, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Flavonoids are protective substances present in plant foods that help to ward off oxidative damage to the body’s cells. Dietary fare that is rich in flavonoids includes:

  • Tea
  • Orange juice
  • Red wine
  • Apples
  • Berries
  • Recently published online in the journal Neurology, the study looked at health and nutritional data from roughly 50,000 men and 80,000 women. Over a follow-up period of 20 to 22 years, 438 of the men and 367 of the women developed Parkinson’s. The results were somewhat puzzling: Whereas men with high overall flavonoid intakes saw a 40 percent reduction in risk, women’s overall intake was not statistically significant. Even so, women who ate at least two servings of berries per week did see a reduction in risk (about 25 percent). These findings do not apply to persons who already have Parkinson’s disease.

    Quoted in HealthDay, an affiliate of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Gao said, "For total flavonoids, the beneficial result was only in men. But berries are protective in both men and women. Berries could be a neuroprotective agent. People can include berries in their regular diet. There are no harmful effects from berry consumption, and they lower the risk of hypertension too."

    Berries such as strawberries and blueberries may be especially protective because they are rich in a certain type flavonoid called anthocyanins.

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    Progress for Parkinson’s Patients

    Tuesday, February 14th, 2012 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

    For promising news regarding the ongoing battle against Parkinson’s disease, read the following press release from the University of Florida Health Science Center:

    Researchers from the University of Florida and 14 additional medical centers reported results recently in the online version of The Lancet Neurology journal indicating that deep brain stimulation — also known as DBS — is effective at improving motor symptoms and quality of life in patients with advanced Parkinson’s disease.

    The study, sponsored by St. Jude Medical Inc., tested the safety and effectiveness of a constant current DBS device developed by St. Jude Medical to manage the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. The device aimed to reduce tremors, improve the slowness of movement, decrease the motor disability of the disease and reduce involuntary movements called dyskinesia, which are a common side effect of Parkinson’s drugs.

    After treatment, analysis of 136 patient diaries revealed longer periods of effective symptom control — known as “on time” — without involuntary movements. “On time” for patients who received stimulation increased by an average of 4.27 hours compared with an increase of 1.77 hours in the group without stimulation. Patients also noted overall improvements in the quality of their daily activities, mobility, emotional state, social support and physical comfort.

    “I think it is safe to say since dopamine treatment emerged in the 1960s, DBS has been the single biggest symptomatic breakthrough for Parkinson patients who have experienced the fluctuations associated with levodopa therapy,” said Michael S. Okun, M.D., first author of the study, administrative director of the UF College of Medicine’s Center for Movement Disorders and Neurorestoration, and the National Medical Director for the National Parkinson Foundation. “This study validates the use of mild electrical currents delivered to specific brain structures in order to improve Parkinson’s disease in select patients with advanced symptoms, and additionally, it explored a new stimulation paradigm. Future improvements in devices and the delivery systems for DBS will hopefully provide exciting new opportunities for Parkinson’s sufferers.”

    Only patients who have had Parkinson’s disease for five years or more were included in the study.They were randomly assigned to a control group that delayed the onset of stimulation for three months, or a group whose stimulation began shortly after surgery. All patients were followed for 12 months.

    The deep brain stimulation procedure involves surgeons implanting small electrodes into an area of the patient’s brain that controls movement. The electrodes are connected to a device precisely programmed to use mild electrical current to modulate problematic brain signals that result in movement problems.

    Today’s voltage-controlled DBS devices deliver pulses of current that vary slightly with surrounding tissue changes. The DBS devices tested in this study are intended to provide more accurate delivery and control of the electrical pulses.

    “We are committed to driving research that will provide solutions for physicians and their patients whose needs are currently unmet,” said Rohan Hoare, president of St. Jude Medical Neuromodulation Division. “These results are significant as they offer evidence that stimulation with the Libra constant current system enabled patients to have better motor control and an improvement in their quality of life when compared to the control group.”

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the use of DBS for Parkinson’s disease in 2002. At least 500,000 people in the United States suffer from Parkinson’s with about 50,000 new cases reported annually, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. These numbers are expected to increase as the average age of the population rises.

    “The study answered some very important questions concerning cognition and mood with lead implantation (alone) versus implantation with stimulation. It also refutes the hypothesis that DBS increases depressive symptoms,” said Gordon H. Baltuch, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of neurosurgery in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and a study author. “The group’s results also showed a decrease in the infection rate to 4 percent from previously published 10 percent. It shows that American neurosurgeons and neurologists with their industry partners are improving the safety of this procedure and working in a collaborative fashion.”

    Comparable with other large DBS studies, the most common serious adverse event revealed was infection, which occurred in five patients. Likewise, some participants also reported an increase in the occurrence of slurred speech, known as dysarthria.

    “Technology is on the move, and we expect to see continued improvements to DBS approaches, equipment and materials,” said Okun, who is also affiliated with UF’s McKnight Brain Institute. “DBS has set the bar high for the development of new therapies for advanced Parkinson’s disease patients. DBS will be the standard of care gene therapy and other cell-based therapies that are now being conceived will be measured against, and this will hopefully translate into significant improvements in what we can offer our patients.”

    In addition to UF and Penn, research was conducted at centers affiliated with Baylor College of Medicine, Columbia University Medical Center, Lahey Clinic, Loma Linda University Medical Center, the Medical College of Wisconsin, Mount Sinai Medical Center, Oakwood Hospital and Health Systems, Texas Health Presbyterian, Rush University Medical Center, the University of Miami, the University of Rochester and the University of Virginia Health Systems.

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