Parkinson’s Disease- An Overview
Parkinson’s disease affects the way a person moves. It is caused by a breakdown in the brain’s nerve cells that make a neurotransmitter (chemical messenger) called dopamine. Dopamine signals the part of the brain controlling movement, which lets your muscles move smoothly and in unison.
Common symptoms include tremor (shaking) affecting the extremities, stiff muscles, slower movement, and problems with balance. In the later stages of the disease, the patient may develop a blank expression, problems with speech, and a decline in mental acuity.
About one million Americans live with Parkinson’s disease (PD), which is more than the combined number of people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and Lou Gehrig’s disease (or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis).
Parkinson’s is progressive, which means it gets worse over time, usually over the course of many years. The origin of Parkinson’s disease is unknown, although scientists studying it suspect a toxic environment is a major contributing factor, especially exposure to pesticides. Genetics are also known to play a role.
Treatments for Parkinson’s Disease
Although there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, several types of medication are used to treat it, mainly as palliative care. Levodopa (also called L-dopa) is the most commonly used medication to treat Parkinson’s, but it’s use can cause side effects over time, like many medications. Depression, extreme daytime drowsiness, involuntary jerky movements, insomnia, dizziness, and hallucinations are some of these side effects.
Another allopathic treatment for Parkinson’s disease is deep brain stimulation, where wires are surgically placed in the brain. Electrical stimulation to parts of the brain that control movement can help some of the symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease.
Physical therapy and occupational therapy can also help, as well as eating a healthy diet.
Alternative Medicine and Parkinson’s Disease
Holistic consideration for people living with Parkinson’s disease include eating only organic produce, drinking purified water, and living in an area with low pollution levels is certainly recommended. Exercise helps the muscles run smoothly and fights the muscle rigidity Parkinson’s induces. Yoga practice can increase energy, balance, and coordination.
Some alternative therapies have been known to help with the symptoms. Acupuncture is among these, as is neurofeedback.
Neurofeedback for the Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease
Though certainly not a cure as a stand- alone therapy, neurofeedback can help to manage the symptoms of Parkinson’s, allowing a person living with the disease to enjoy a better quality of life. It is recommended that it be combined with the other holistic therapies listed above.
There have been very few studies completed on the efficacy of neurofeedback in the treatment of parkinson’s disease, but here is a list of additional reading on the topic:
Neurofeedback as a Treatment for Parkinson’s Disease (Psychology Today article)
Please contact us with any additional questions you may have about neurofeedback and Parkinson’s disease treatment.