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What Factors Affect the Prognosis of Parkinson's?

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  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 30 November 2016
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Parkinson's disease is a lifelong, incurable neurological disorder that gets progressively worse over time. The prognosis may seem grim, but modern advancements in diagnostic tools, medicines, and surgical techniques help a large number of patients enjoy active, long lives despite their conditions. Many different factors can affect the prognosis of Parkinson's, but some of the most important are the severity of symptoms at the time of diagnosis, the age of the patient, and the availability of quality medical care. Receiving earnest psychological and emotional support as the disease progresses can also improve the prognosis of Parkinson's.

Most people who are diagnosed with Parkinson's are over the age of 40. Their doctors might discover muscle movement abnormalities incidentally during routine checkups or after patients report early signs of the disease, such as hand tremors or trouble walking and speaking. In general, the earlier that problems are discovered, the better the prognosis of Parkinson's. Individuals who have family histories of the disease should be especially attuned to the early warning signs and schedule regular checkups with their physicians in hopes of catching minor problems before they cause major neurological dysfunction.

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Decades of research and advancements in modern medicine have greatly improved the prognosis of Parkinson's disease. It is now known that many of the problems associated with the condition stem from low levels of dopamine in the brain. This fact has allowed pharmaceutical experts to develop drugs that supplement natural dopamine production and help to keep the chemical flowing in the brain longer.

Levodopa is a daily oral medication that is transformed into dopamine when it reaches the brain. Many patients are also given monoamine oxidase (MAO) B inhibitors, which block the action of naturally occurring enzymes. MAO enzymes normally break down dopamine, and their effects in patients with Parkinson's can be significantly slowed or stopped with inhibitor drugs to prevent dopamine loss. Other medications that combat specific symptoms, such as hand tremors, can also improve a person's quality of life during treatment.

Dedicated physical therapy, a positive attitude, and support from family and professional therapists can have major impacts on a prognosis of Parkinson's. Individualized physical therapy programs help patients build strength, improve their walking and speaking skills, and perhaps most importantly, gain confidence. Emotional backing from friends, family, psychologists, and community support groups helps people stay focused on their goals in life and stay optimistic. A prognosis of Parkinson's does not mean an end to happiness and activity as long as a person is willing to keep fighting.

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