There is no known cure for Parkinson’s disease, but there are treatments available, including physiotherapy and massage therapy. Parkinson’s disease severely inhibits a person’s ability to move by affecting the basal ganglia, the part of the brain responsible for physical movement.
Massage therapy has been a popular choice of treatment among Parkinson’s patients. Massage therapy can alleviate stiffness and pain in the muscles-common symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
Physiotherapy helps the patient to increase their physical movement and improve posture. Although Parkinson’s disease severely inhibits movement, it is increased movement and physical activity that slows down the degenerative effects on the body.
The Canadian Physiotherapy Association (in partnership with Parkinson’s Society Canada) produced a document in 2012 providing information on how patients can improve their condition through specific forms of physical activity. The document also provides a chart designed to help patients and their physiotherapists track physical activity.
Stem cell research has been encouraged in the hope that it would produce cures for a number of ailments, including Parkinson’s. At Cardiff University, scientists are experimenting with a new technique that transfers cells to the brain in the hope of repairing nerve damage in Parkinson’s patients.
The technique involves using gel-like structures designed to provide support to transplanted cells and reactivating pathways to the nerves. Since nerve damage contributes to loss of movement, repairing lost cells in this area can greatly improve the daily lives of Parkinson’s patients.
In Singapore, medical researchers have discovered that anti malaria drugs have the ability to alleviate symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. When experimenting on rats, the drugs appeared to cause an improvement in their physical movement. A combination of two antimalerial drugs produces a chemical called Nurr1, the key chemical to treating Parkinson’s disease symptoms.
Unfortunately, the research is still in its early stages and any possible cure may still be years away. However massage therapy and physiotherapy treatment are still viable options for patients and many have seen positive changes in their daily lives.
Practical Suggestions for Parkinson’s Patients
Parkinson’s severely inhibits movement, including one’s ability to walk. When not undergoing formal sessions, there are some practical things that patients can do to improve their walking:
- Deliberate focus on walking: try to consciously think about your steps and focus on landing on your heels. Imagine yourself walking and then try to do it.
- Keep walking in a forward direction and avoid making sharp turns. If you have to turn, then stop and turn using both feet. Avoid attempting to turn while walking
- Use visuals to help you keep moving. Focus on lines along the ground or doorway to avoid freezing.
- If you find yourself stuck then try rocking gently sideways and then take a step forward or backward (followed by a step forward).
- Have regular sessions with your physiotherapist and massage therapist. They can advise you on what activities you can do to improve mobility.
I am Kelly Brown, a medical student who is fanatical about exploring new ideas in the health industry. It has been my greatest dream and a wish made over the shooting star to be a doctor someday and I can’t explain my joy as I am getting closer to achieving my goal.