Brain Facts

Brain Facts

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Parkinson's disease: What is the treatment?

The treatment for Parkinson's disease involves not only the use of drugs - which is the mainstay of treatment for most patients - but also the involvement of many other disciplines: nursing, speech, occupational and physiotherapies and diet. More recently, advances in brain surgery have been made so that on occasion a number of surgical procedures can also be considered for some people.

Drugs:

The various drugs used for treatment are of differing actions; some are more useful in situations where a particular symptom dominates. Many of them can have side effects in some people, side effects that have features so like Parkinson's disease itself that they have to be discontinued. Treatment management and stabilisation can often, therefore, be very difficult and complicated.

Surgery:

It is the advancements in surgical techniques that are starting to offer patients a better chance of a successful treatment. Specific areas of the brain can be approached by a variety of surgical interventions: implantation of electrodes for stimulation of certain areas as needed; electrode destruction of trouble-causing cells in the brain (stereotactic surgery); and more recently, brain tissue transplants have produced encouraging results (where genetically engineered cells can be placed in the brain in order to supply the 'missing' chemicals), but this is really still in the experimental stages.

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