Laser Shoes Help Prevent Parkinson’s Patients from Freezing in Place While Walking

By Carolina Henriques

Dutch researchers have developed laser shoes to help Parkinson’s patients overcome a brain disconnect that causes them to stop walking when they want to keep going.

Lasers attached to each shoe give patients a visual cue of where they need to go. Without a visual cue, the brain disconnect often leads to patients freezing in place while walking. The freezes, which can last from several seconds to several minutes, increase the chance of a patient falling.

The lasers that the Dutch team added to the tops of shoes project lines on the floor that provide patients with the visual cues they need. The lasers work in sync with each other. One projects a line until the patient takes a step along that line. Then the laser on the other shoe projects a line.

Researchers published a study on the shoes in the journal Neurology. The title of the article is “The laser-shoes – a new ambulatory device to alleviate freezing of gait in Parkinson’s disease.

A debilitating symptom of Parkinson’s, freezing episodes are also dangerous. Because a patient’s foot remains on the floor while their upper body continues moving forward, it is easy for them to lose their balance and fall.

Dr. Murielle Ferraye and her colleagues at the University of Twente and Raboud University say the shoes reduced wearers’ freezing episodes by 46 percent. And when freezes did occur, the shoes cut the duration of the episodes in half.

Walking problems are most likely to occur when patients fail to take their medication on time. Not surprisingly, the researchers said the shoes provide the biggest benefit in these cases.

Parkinson’s patients can sometimes find visual cues such as street-crossing lines to help them walk. Inside their home, they can use floor tiles as cues. The laser shoes will provide them with cues all the time, indoors or out, the researchers said.

How do the visual clues work? By looking at objects on the floor, patients can activate circuits in their brain that overcome the disconnects that cause the freezing episodes.

“Our tests were administered in a controlled lab setting with and without medication,” Ferraye said in a University of Twente news story. Further research in their [patients’] everyday environment is necessary.

“Of the 19 patients who tested the shoes, the majority would be happy to use them,” she said. “The patients did not seem to mind that the laser was activated for each single step. Ideally, the laser should only be activated once the blockage is detected, but we’re not quite there yet. Freezing is a very complex phenomenon.”

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Source:: Parkinson’s Today

The Evolution of Treatment for Parkinson’s Disease

By Wendy Henderson

In this video from TIME, learn about the evolution of Parkinson’s disease treatment since the late 1950s. Vice president of media communications for the Michael J. Fox Foundation, Dr. Rachel Dolhun, discusses how treatment for the disease has developed over the years.

MORE: How does Parkinson’s disease affect the brain?

Dr. Dolhun explains that while the diagnosis procedure for Parkinson’s disease hasn’t changed too much since the 1950s, the way the disease is treated has changed substantially. Back then, there were no treatments for Parkinson’s disease and now there are many treatments to help with the symptoms of the condition. In addition, five new treatments are currently in clinical trials that may slow or stop the progression of the disease.

As well as medications, surgeries such as deep brain stimulation have help modern day Parkinson’s patients overcome some of the more pronounced symptoms of the disease.

MORE: Three causes of psychosis in Parkinson’s disease

Parkinsons’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

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Source:: Parkinson’s Today

PAA profile in b-Metro Giving Guide

PAA is thrilled to be included in the 2017 b-Metro Giving Guide! Holiday giving is critical to Birmingham charities and non-profits and we are honored to accompany so many worthy causes. We hope you’ll consider a contribution to PAA or any of the fantastic organizations described in the guide when fulfilling your holiday giving needs.

CLICK TO DOWNLOAD FULL GIVING GUIDE

Weight Loss Linked to Worse Outcomes in Parkinson’s Patients, Study Shows

By Patricia Inacio, PhD

Weight loss in Parkinson’s disease patients increases the risks for dementia and dependency care, and reduces patients’ life expectancy, according to a new study.

These findings suggest that monitoring weight and timely dietary interventions to counteract weight loss may significantly improve the outcome of Parkinson’s disease patients.

The study, “Early weight loss in parkinsonism predicts poor outcomes: Evidence from an incident cohort study,” was published in the journal Neurology.

Researchers at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland followed 515 participants – 187 with Parkinson’s disease, 88 with the so-called atypical parkinsonism, and 240 controls – for a median of five years. During this period they registered patients’ weight and evaluated how weight variations influenced disease outcomes.

Individuals with atypical parkinsonism are characterized by some of the signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease – such as tremor, slowness, and walking problems – without having a Parkinson’s disease diagnosis.

“Weight loss is a common problem in Parkinson’s but it wasn’t clear before we did this how common it was, mainly because of biases in previous studies, or what the consequences were of weight loss. Our hypothesis was that people who are losing weight were going to have adverse outcomes,” Dr. Angus Macleod, the study’s lead author, said in a press release.

The results showed that patients with Parkinson’s disease and parkinsonism have, from early on, lower body weights compared to those without the disease, or controls. Further analysis also showed that weight loss occurring within one year of diagnosis was associated with a higher risk of dependency (patients are no longer able to perform daily activities), dementia, and death.

“Our finding that those who lose weight have poorer outcomes is important because reversing weight loss may therefore improve outcomes,” Macleod said. “Therefore, it is vital that further research investigate whether e.g. high calorie diets will improve outcomes in people with Parkinson’s who lose weight.”

“While other studies have demonstrated that weight loss is common in Parkinson’s, this is the first to consider the impact this symptom may have,” said Prof. David Dexter, deputy director of research at Parkinson’s UK, a charity that contributed funding for the research.

“It has yet to be determined whether this quicker progression can be corrected by supplementation with a high calorie diet, however this could be a key potential development,” Dexter added.

The post Weight Loss Linked to Worse Outcomes in Parkinson’s Patients, Study Shows appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

Source:: Parkinson’s Today

Caregiver Insights from the Parkinson’s Foundation

While your loved one’s Parkinson’s diagnosis probably changed your life overnight, caregiver is a role and an identity that you grow into, and it does not have to erase or replace any existing ways you self-identify. In this session from our 2016 Caregiver Summit, Susan Hedlund, MSW, LCSW, shared how you can continue to experience the love, friendship, contribution to society, ideas, and sense of wholeness that you need to grow as your own person, while you and your loved one face Parkinson’s together.

Whether you care for someone who is recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD), are adapting to new challenges as the disease progresses or have been living with PD for a long time, a strong support network is essential for your wellbeing and the wellbeing of the person with Parkinson’s. Making sure you are taken care of, too, can help create a productive partnership that minimizes stress and conflict. Benefits include revitalized energy, renewed interest in creative endeavors, new subjects to talk about and the realization that you and your partner are not alone.

Parkinson’s is a progressive disease, meaning that it changes over time. That can make it hard to define your role, as your involvement will change along the way. Responsibilities may include helping a loved one with daily activities, managing medications and making financial decisions.

Whatever your responsibilities, define “caregiving” for yourself. Especially early in the Parkinson’s journey, you might not feel like you are actually “giving” care. Similarly, your loved one might not see himself or herself as someone in need of care. But remember, care is not limited to physical tasks. Care can be emotional and spiritual as well as physical.

Source: Parkinson’s Foundation