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Parkinson’s – Discussion Group and Education Series

January 4, 2023

Open Discussion

One of the participants was having some difficulty swallowing. He developed pneumonia and was admitted to the hospital. He is working with a speech therapist and will share some of the exercises he has been doing. Patrick will review them and share the appropriate ones. 

The Air We Can Breathe or Not 

A more general discussion about swallowing difficulties ensued. It is common for a PWP to develop speech problems as the muscles involved weaken. This can lead to swallowing problems and your breathing ability. The ramification may be choking or pneumonia.

There are numerous inhalation devices available. A simple Internet search of “inhalation device” yielded numerous options. Two that have been discussed in the group sessions are: 

The Breather and a Spirometer  Ask your speech therapist or MDS for recommendations. 

Your Parkinson’s team should include a Speech Therapist, along with an Occupational Therapist, Physical Therapist, Dermatologist, Podiatrist and Gastroenterologist. Your team works with your Neurologist, putting together the best care plan for you.

Where does it hurt today? Again.

Pain is a common companion for PWP. Not only because the symptoms can be painful (dystonia, bradykinesia, tremor) but PWP tend to move around randomly and have balance issues, resulting in bumps, bruises and falls. A participant recently fell and hurt his shoulder, while another has chronic back pain. 

The use of spinal stimulation may help if you suffer chronic back, leg, or arm pain and have not found relief with other therapies. A spinal cord stimulator (SCS) device is surgically placed under your skin. This small device, similar to a pacemaker, delivers electrical pulses to the spinal cord. Spinal cord stimulation therapy masks pain signals before they reach the brain. It helps people better manage their chronic pain and reduce their use of opioid medications.

For more information on spinal cord stimulators: Spinal Cord Stimulator  

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) therapy involves the use of low-voltage electric currents to treat pain. A small device delivers the current at or near nerves. TENS therapy blocks or changes your perception of pain. For more information on TENS UNITS: TENS Therapy

Medication for Parkinson’s Disease

The “gold standard” for PD is Carbidopa-Levodopa (generic name) or Sinemet (brand name). There are different doses and ways of delivery, but they all contain the same basic ingredient…..Carbidopa-Levodopa. Some of the Examples: Carbidopa-Levodopa (C/L) immediate and continuous release, Duopa a gel that enters into the stomach through a tube, Inbrija an inhaled version of levodopa, and a relatively new version of C/L Rytary. This has the same basic ingredient as Sinemet but works over an extended time frame. So, if your doctor changes your medication from Sinemet to Rytary, you are taking the same basic ingredient. 

Apple Watch

Technology changes quickly and the medical area is often in the forefront when it comes to new ways to treat their patients. Apple Watch and Fitbit are two very popular wearables that can provide the wearer with a plethora of information. It tracks your activity and reports your number of steps, distance, heart rate, etc. Depending on the device, you can use it to set alarms to remind you to take  your medicine, provide weather information, help find your phone, answer your calls and play music. Most importantly, it can detect a fall and contact emergency services if needed.

Presentations

Patrick announced that a physical therapist will be presenting to the discussion group on Wednesday, 18 January. Jessie Agrimis will discuss “Why Parkinson’s can make basic movements challenging and practical techniques that help” 

Jessie will review techniques employed in PD treatment, including why and how these techniques are helpful. She also will cover the topic of freezing of gait, why it occurs, and how to best manage it.

Wednesday, 8 February

Kat Hill – Being Well with Chronic Illness

Being Well with Chronic Illness introduces the simple, but powerful concept of the Wellness Spiral, an actionable pathway anyone can follow to turn bad life events to opportunities for growth and wellness. The intricacies of the Wellness Spiral lay out a road map to how we respond to life’s harshest challenges—and how we can rise above them.

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