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Diagnosis and Treatment of Parkinson's Disease 

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The process of making a Parkinson's disease (PD) diagnosis is based on the hallmark symptoms and how the symptoms came about; as well as what is seen on a thorough examination.  There is no X-ray or blood test that can confirm Parkinson's disease. Blood tests and brain scans known as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be performed to rule out other conditions that have similar symptoms.

People suspected of having Parkinson's disease should consider seeking the care of a neurologist who specializes in Parkinson's disease.

Much more is known about Parkinson’s disease now than in the past.  There are several medications available to treat some of the symptoms. Additionally, it is known that many other therapies (Non-medications treatments) in combination with medication, can significantly improve the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.  Proper medical management and a multidisciplinary approach can help restore lost functions and protect against secondary symptoms that could otherwise develop.

Medical Treatment
Current medicines work primarily as dopamine replacement, since many of the movement symptoms are caused by lack of dopamine. The medicines most commonly used will attempt to either replace or mimic dopamine, which can improve tremor, rigidity and slowness associated with Parkinson's disease. Many new medicines are being studied that may work in different ways to treat symptoms and slow the progression.  Non-medication treatments include Physical and Speech therapies designed specifically to target the problem areas of PD.

Surgical Treatment
Deep Brain Stimulation is currently, the most commonly used surgical treatment of PD.  This procedure is performed by a neurosurgeon experienced in this type of Functional Neurosurgery.  During this surgery,  electrodes are place in the specific areas of the brain known as the Subthalamic Nucleus (STN) or Globus Pallidus Internus (GPI). Using a pacemaker-like device (implanted in the chest), a mild electric impulse occurs that stimulates the brain and block the signals that cause some of the symptoms of PD. Not every patient with PD is a good candidate for this procedure. That can be determined by thorough pre-surgical evaluation with a Parkinson’s disease expert or a Movement Disorders Neurosurgeon. The pre-surgical evaluation is quite extensive to make certain the patient that undergoes this surgery will have the best results possible. Deep brain stimulation surgery was approved by the FDA for treatment of PD in 2002.

Several new surgical treatments for Parkinson’s disease are also currently being researched.

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