March, 2018: American Psychological Association:

The APA estimates nearly half of all PD patients suffer from depression with some interactive features including cognitive and speech deficits and impairment in emotional expression or processing. It is probably caused by an independent abnormality rather than as a maladaptive response to the disease since the degree of depression is not correlated with PD severity. Prognostically, depressive features may represent a subtle premorbid state heralding the onset of PD or an accelerated cognitive decline thereafter. 

 

Parkinson’s Association

Statistical reports state as many as one million Americans live with Parkinson’s – more than the combined number of persons with MS, MD or ALS. Approx. 60,000 persons are diagnosed each year in America. Men are one and a half times more likely to have Parkinson’s than women.

 

Costs – combined direct and indirect – including treatment, social security payments and lost income from inability to work is estimated to be nearly $25 billion per year in the US alone. Medication costs average $2500 per year and therapeutic surgery can cost up to $10,000 per patient.

 

February, 2018: IT, Johns Hopkins University and Universidad Politecnica de Madrid

Report on a joint study of non-invasive biomarkers able to identify Parkinson’s disease from the speech of patients. The average time to obtain a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease is 2.9 years and essentially based on the clinical suspicion. The diagnostic accuracy varies considerably according to the duration of the disease, age, medical expertise and evolution. The uncertainty of the diagnosis, along with the degeneration caused before starting any treatment, has obvious impact on the quality of life of the patients.

 

The literature has identified for decades that voice and speech are affected on the pre-symptomatic stages of the disease. This study shows that speech is the carrier of information relevant to the differential diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease and the extraction of interest feature can be easily automated. The results find that diagnostic reliability is similar to the current studies based on clinical suspicion.

 

January, 2018: The Parkinson’s Foundation

Th Foundation has enrolled its 10,000 patient in the largest clinical trial of the disease yet to be conducted. Launched in 2009, the key conclusions drawn to date are:

- Regular visits to neurologists should be a priority for patients and caregivers

- Doctors should give a patient’s physical activity more attentions

- Patient’s mental health should be a priority particularly depression.

- Doctors need to address gender differences between patients.

 

American Academy of Neurology

Technology has come to the rescue of those expressing gait freezing. Laser shoes equipped with a small laser emitters enable those affected by PD to walk in a normal way. During a freeze, the patient may break out of it just by concentrating on something close to their feet moving their foot toward it or stepping over it. The shoes project a line about 18 inches ahead on the floor based on the pace of the patient’s footsteps and therefore, triggers the patient to walk by stepping toward the line. While in motion, the laser projection turns off allowing the other shoe to project the line. 

 

December, 2017: Reported in JAMA Neurology

Reports on a study from Feinburg University school of Medicine at Northwestern University, that patients taking part in intensive exercise showed almost no decline in scores on their disease scale while those who did not participate declined an average of 3 points. This exercise was over a 6 month period and proved to be tolerable without injury and only sporadic complaints of sore muscles.

 

Colorado University School of Medicine

Reporting very early stage finding with limited implications for patients as the study was in mice, doctors believe that vigorous exercise could be linked to increased production of a brain protecting protein molecule, DJ-1. Researchers believe that DJ-1 plays a role in preventing the build-up of defective molecules which form harmful protein clumps, known as Lewy bodies, in the brains of Parkinson’s patients.  

 

November, 2017: Reported in JAMA Neurology

Building on the Global Burden of Disease study, physicians from the University of Rochester and Radboud University in the Netherlands commented that neurological disorders are not the leading cause of disability in the world and the fastest growing among them is Parkinson’s. Between 1990 and 2015, the prevalence of Parkinson’s more than doubled and it is estimated that 6.9 million people across the globe have the disease. By 2040, an estimated 14.2 million people with have Parkinson’s outpacing Alzheimer’s.

The physicians deem this a “looming pandemic” and argue that active and aggressive advocacy must be pursued to the pharmaceutical industry and policy makers demanding immediate action to fight this enormous threat. They call for an all-out assault as was done with HIV-AIDS to understand the causes and risk factors to help prevention, to increase access to care – an estimated 40% of people with the disease do not see a neurologist, to increase research funding and to lower the cost of treatments.

 

Survey of Parkinson’s patients of GeneFo, an online community

Responding to questions about the daily challenges of living with Parkinson’s over 5000 responses shed some new light on some aspects of the condition that might need to be taken into consideration by researchers, clinicians and even policymakers.

In regard to mood, the survey also looked at the differences between men and women finding men are more likely to feel depressed and anxious that women. Men are also more trusting of their doctor’s recommendations and more likely to fully adhere to their prescribed medications. But men reported more use of homeopathy and preferred music as opposed to prayer and meditation preference by women. 

 

September, 2017: Mayo Clinic weighs in on possible causes of PD 

While the exact cause in unknown, there are four possible theories that may cause Parkinson’s; 

  1. Genetics: There are certain genes, that when they become mutated, cause Parkinson’s. However, these mutated genes are very rare, except when Parkinson’s runs in the family. Additionally, there are some gene variations which seem to slightly increase the risk. 
  2. Environment: There are some environment factors and toxins which may trigger the disease but the increased risk is very small. 
  3. Presence of Lewy bodies in the brain: Lewy bodies are proteins found in brain cells which are biomarkers of the disease. 
  4. Alph-synuclein in Lewy Bodies: Scientists are focusing on studying alpha-syncuclien proteins that from clumps in the brain cells and thought to contribute to the disease. 

 

Anxiety in Parkinson’s 

According to the National Parkinson’s Foundation, chemical changes occurring in the brain can trigger mood disorders such as anxiety and depression. Often and extremely low level of the chemical GABA is linked to the onset of these disorders. In this case medication can help rebalance the brains chemicals and reduce anxiety.

There may also be psychological factors that stem from dealing with a chronic disease as well as possible anxiety attacks when medications wear off or are no longer working. 

 

July, 2017: Lifestyle changes that can improve Quality of Life for Parkinson’s Patients

Exercise is one of the most important things a person with PD can do to improve their life.

Diet is also important. Eating a healthy, balance diet and drinking lots of water will help avoid the gastrointestinal issues often associated with Parkinson’s and will help medication work to its full potential.

Getting regular quality sleep where you awake refreshed can help the brain produce dopamine. Nap during the day if you feel fatigued to restore energy.

 

World’s First Blood Test to Aid Diagnosis of Parkinson’s

Isreali researcher Abd-Elhadi has developed a minimally invasive, highly sensitive kit to test for Parkinson’s called “lipid ELISA” ( ELISA stands for enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) PD is associated with the protein alpha-synuclin, the pathological form of which appears first in peripheral nerves usually in the digestive system. Patients in early stages of PD have digestive system problems and swallowing even before the disease pathology reaches the brain. Alpha-synuclin binds to fat molecules, called lipids on cell membranes. Using the lips to which the alpha-synuclin binds best, she developed the test.  Earlier diagnosis can help by seeing how a given drug affects the progress of the disease.

 

Fighting off Parkinson’s, One punch at a time

Twice weekly boxing classes have found improvements in balance, gait speed and gait endurance along with helping to overcome symptoms of hypokinesia (small movements) by giving patients a defined, meaningful task like hitting a target. The therapists at Northeast Rehab in NH believe that the exercise increases dopamine synthesis and release which in turn controls movement function. In a study by the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, Parkinson’s patients who participate in rigorous activity like boxing are able to use and create dopamine more easily than patients who do not exercise. This means that exercising patients are able to prevent their symptoms for getting worse and even mitigating the effects.​

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