Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders

Parkinson’s disease affects over one and a half million men and women in the United States today. Each year, approximately 50,000 new patients are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Although statistics show that 1 out of every 100 newly diagnosed case is over the age of 60, more and more younger patients are being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

Crozer-Keystone's neurologists offer a full range of services for the diagnosis, evaluation and treatment of Parkinson's disease and other movement disorders, including:

  • DaTscan Imaging Services
  • Clinical research programs
  • Psychological counseling
  • Referrals for physical, speech and swallowing and occupational therapy
  • Outpatient drug monitoring
  • Second opinions and referrals for second opinions
  • Supportive groups for patients and their families
  • Caregiver support groups and instructional programs
  • Community referral services
  • Exercise groups
  • Professional and patient education

Other movement disorders treated include:

  • Other Parkinson-like syndromes
  • Tourette’s and other tic syndromes
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Essential, familial and senile tremor
  • Tardive dyskinesia
  • Tardive dystonia
  • Dystonia, toricollis, blepharospasm
  • Hemifacial spasm

Symptoms of Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson's disease is characterized by tremor, usually when at rest, decreased spontaneous movements, slowness of movement, gait difficulty and rigidity. Patients with Parkinson's disease often experience postural instability or have a tendency to fall or lose their balance. Other complications include memory impairment, depression, low blood pressure, sexual dysfunction, and speech and swallowing difficulties.

However, no two patients experience this common neurodegenerative condition in exactly the same way. While the most common presenting symptom is tremors of the hands, the disease takes many forms and presents an array of symptoms, including tremors, muscle stiffness or slowness and problems with walking. Consequently, it becomes important for doctors to individualize the care of their patients suffering from this condition.

These symptoms are due, in part, to the premature degeneration of nerve cells within the substantia nigra portion of the brain. As the nerve cells degenerate, the body’s ability to produce dopamine becomes affected. When there isn’t a sufficient or functioning level of dopamine, brain processes are not triggered into action.

Diagnosis and Treatment

It is not yet known what causes the neutrons to degenerate or cease to function. Nor is there a blood test or single physiological evaluation that can identify a PD patient prior to his or her systems being presented.

There are a variety of effective treatments currently available to help manage the disease’s side effects, including medication, surgery and complementary treatments. Neurologists at Crozer-Chester Medical Center are available for both the evaluation for this type of surgery and the follow up appointments to manage the stimulator settings.

Parkinson’s Disease and Dementia

What are the complications of Parkinson’s disease?

Parkinson’s disease initially causes physical symptoms, however problems with cognitive function, including forgetfulness and difficulty with concentration, may arise later. As the disease gets worse with time, many people develop dementia, which causes profound memory loss and makes it difficult to maintain relationships with others.

Parkinson’s disease dementia can cause problems with:

  • Speaking and communicating with others
  • Being able to solve problems
  • Understanding abstract concepts
  • Forgetfulness
  • Difficulty paying attention

Individuals that have Parkinson’s disease and dementia eventually won't be able to live by themselves. Dementia affects a person’s ability to care for themselves, even if their Parkinson’s disease allows them to physically perform daily tasks.

Experts don't understand how or why dementia often occurs with Parkinson’s disease. It’s clear, though, that dementia and problems with cognitive function are linked to changes in the brain that cause problems with movement. As with Parkinson’s disease, dementia occurs when nerve cells degenerate, leading to chemical changes in the brain. Parkinson’s disease dementia may be treated with medications also used to treat Alzheimer's disease, another type of dementia.

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