PinnacleHealth’s collaborative team treats Parkinson’s disease by addressing the full spectrum of your neurological care including the physical, emotional and occupational aspects of the disease.
What is Parkinson’s disease?
Parkinson's disease occurs when certain nerve cells in an area of the brain known as the substantial nigra become impaired. These nerve cells produce dopamine, a vital brain chemical that permits smooth, coordinated function of the body's muscles and movement. When approximately 80 percent of the dopamine-producing cells are damaged, the symptoms of Parkinson's disease appear.
The key signs are:
- Tremor (shaking)
- Slowness of movement
- Rigidity (stiffness)
- Difficulty with balance
Other signs of Parkinson's disease may include:
- Small, cramped handwriting
- Stiff facial expression
- Shuffling walk
- Muffled speech
Parkinson’s disease affects men and women in almost equal numbers. Currently, one million Americans have Parkinson’s and an estimated 60,000 American are diagnosed each year. The condition usually develops after the age of 65; however, 15 percent of those diagnosed are under age 50.
Getting a diagnosis for Parkinson’s disease
There is no definitive test for Parkinson’s disease. The condition is diagnosed based on your medical history, observations of your symptoms, and a neurologic exam. Your doctor may order various tests to rule out other disorders.
A physician referral is preferred to see a PinnacleHealth neurological specialist. For an appointment, please have your physician contact us at (717) 791-2520.
Treatment for Parkinson’s disease
When first diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, many patients experience denial. A chronic illness is difficult to accept. Your sense of identity is immediately challenged as you wonder what’s ahead. How will the disease progress? Will I be able to work? Will I lose my independence? Will I be a burden to my family?
At PinnacleHealth treating Parkinson’s disease involves much more than treating the symptoms. We are dedicated to supporting you through the physical, emotional and occupational aspects of your disorder. To help you and your family cope, we offer a wide array of support services such as home care, pain management, rehabilitation, hospice and more.
Medicines can help to ease the symptoms of Parkinson's disease.One of the most innovative discoveries surrounding the treatment of advanced Parkinson’s is the development of deep brain stimulation (DBS), the surgical implantation of electrodes to stimulate specific parts of the brain. DBS treats some of the disease’s most debilitating symptoms including tremor, rigidity, stiffness, and walking problems and can improve movement skills and quality of life. DBS can also be used to treat side effects of the medications used in Parkinson’s disease in certain cases. The procedure is an option for patients whose symptoms are not being adequately controlled by medication. Unfortunately surgery is not a cure since Parkinson’s disease is a progressive
At PinnacleHealth, our neurologists work seamlessly with our team of neurosurgeons to determine the best course of treatment for you.