Physical and rehabilitative interventions, speech therapy, occupational therapy and nursing care play a key role in the treatment of end-stage Parkinson’s disease, states the National Institutes of Health. An integrative approach that includes both pharmacological and supportive interventions is emphasized for end-stage treatment of this disease.
Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative brain disorder that progresses slowly and affects over half a million people in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Generally, Parkinson’s affects people between the ages of 55 and 65 and involves common movement-related symptoms, including stiffness or rigidity of the limbs, slowness of movement, impaired balance and coordination, and tremors or trembling of the arms, jaw, legs and face. Typical nonmovement-related symptoms are depression, urinary problems, speech impairment and low blood pressure.
Although the cause of Parkinson’s is unknown, as of 2015, research has determined that brain cells in the substantia nigra deteriorate. These cells are responsible for the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for sending signals to muscles to coordinate movement, notes JHM. Therapies that use medications typically focus on increasing dopamine or on addressing specific symptoms. However, recent advances, including the identification of several Parkinson’s genes and newly discovered biochemical pathways that play a role in the disease, are assisting scientists in uncovering new targets for therapy.