Treatments

Currently, there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease. There are several therapies and treatments available to minimize and manage existing symptoms or slow the progression of the disease.

Medications

  • Levodopa: The drug levodopa (L-dopa) has been a standard treatment for Parkinson’s disease. Once it reaches the brain, levodopa is converted to dopamine. The drug may cause side effects  such as nausea, rapid heart rate, low blood pressure, and loss of appetite. To reduce these side effects, L-dopa is generally taken in conjunction with Carbidopa, which is also used to improve effectiveness of L-dopa.
  • Entacapone: A drug that can be taken in combination with levodopa. It is of the Catechol-O-methyl transferase inhibitor class of drugs so it may be seen as “COMT-I” instead of “Entacapone”. This prescription lengthens the duration of the L-dopa effectiveness and allows for a reduction in the carbidopa/levodopa dosage.
  • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors: Monoamine oxidase inhibitors, specifically Type B (MAOI-B), work to preserve the dopamine in the brain.
  • Dopamine Agonists: Rather than waiting to be converted into dopamine and or risking the issues associated with being converted prematurely, this drug acts to imitate the dopamine that is deficient in people with Parkinson’s disease.

Surgery – Deep Brain Stimulation

As the disease progresses some patients may consider a surgical option known as Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS). During this surgery, electrodes are placed in the brain and the impulses can be controlled in a fully adjustable manner similar to a pacemaker. It is an effective option for managing the tremor, rigidity, and slowness in Parkinson’s. This therapy has been known to help with dyskinesia caused from Parkinson’s medications. DBS may not be the best option for patients who have significant cognitive dysfunction or for patients who have symptoms that do not respond to levodopa.

A new procedure for the DBS surgery is now possible with the use of a computed tomography machine (CT) that scans the brain while the patient is under general anesthesia. This is used to locate and verify proper placement of the electrodes rather than having the patient remain awake to confirm the locations. This form of DBS surgery is still new and many surgeons may not be as practiced with its procedure compared to the “awake” DBS surgery.

Exercise

There is growing evidence that stretching and exercise can help keep Parkinson’s symptoms at bay and even delay the progression of the disease. Exercise can help you feel better mentally and emotionally. It is good to participate in fun exercises that focus on balance, fine motor control, strength and cardiovascular activity. For more information about exercise or exercise programs near you, please refer to our Exercise page or contact the Iowa Parkinson Disease Information and Referral Center at (877) 872-6386; informreferral@apdaiowa.org

Other Exercise Options/Programs

Davis Phinney Foundation’s Parkinson’s Exercise Essentials (Free DVD)

Delay the Disease

PWR!

Dance for PD

Silver Sneakers

Tai Chi

Yoga