Treatments for Parkinson's disease

The purpose of care is to allow the patient to continue living at home for as long as possible.


The focus of care for Parkinson’s disease is on the patient, which involves multidisciplinary attention. In fact, treatment requires both paramedical and pharmaceutical care. Surgical treatment is possible for the youngest patients.
The purpose of drug treatment is to restore the deficient dopamine transmission. There are two main types of medications for Parkinson’s disease:
- Levodopa: converted into dopamine by the body. Once it reaches the right place in the body, it is transformed into dopamine. This is the most effective and best tolerated treatment for the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
- Dopamine agonists: molecules that mimic the action of dopamine. It appears to delay the appearance of movement problems experienced by Parkinson’s disease sufferers.
Dopamine medications are known to trigger side effects, which can be very noticeable. Among these effects are behavioural disorders (making compulsive purchases, addiction to gambling, hypersexuality) and hallucinations. These types of problems are rarely or poorly acknowledged by Parkinson’s disease patients, and this comprises the majority of the monitoring by the neurologist and his/her team.
Physiotherapists, speech therapists, nurses and occupational therapists are heavily involved in the overall treatment of the disease.
- Physiotherapy should be provided to Parkinson’s disease patients as early as possible in order to retain as much mobility and motor skills as possible. Its goal is to combat negative posture changes.
- The speech therapist is indispensable in patient care, because the muscle problems and rigidity caused by akinesia can cause speech problems in Parkinson’s disease patients.
- The occupational therapist can preserve motor skills in everyday actions. It is indispensable for keeping the patient at home and allowing him or her to retain his or her independence.


Finally, surgical treatment may be considered for the youngest patients, with such treatment involving neurostimulation (high-frequency electrical stimulation) if the disease becomes too debilitating. It is used successfully when the trembling experienced by Parkinson’s disease sufferers is resistant to pharmaceutical treatment. Furthermore, the motor difficulties and side effects associated with levodopa represent the main indications for such neurostimulation.
There are also two types of innovative treatments for Parkinson’s disease, with the first being the administration of stem cells, which may be able to synthesise the dopamine, and the second being embryonic cell cultures, which are able to multiply and become neurons and thus also allow the synthesis of dopamine. 

Last updated: 02/10/2017

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