Parkinson's Center at Confraternität Private Hospital
Dr. Dieter Volc
Neurology and psychiatry
What is Parkinson's disease and how does it develop?
Parkinson's disease is one of the most common neurological diseases. The number of diseases worldwide has more than doubled since 1990, which can also be seen in connection with increased life expectancy. Various poisons such as those used in agriculture and industry around the world do the rest. This is also the reason for the massive increase in recent years.
In Parkinson's disease, a lack of important messenger substances (neurotransmitters) in the brain, such as dopamine, or serotonin, causes certain areas of the brain to age prematurely. The actual cause of the changes of the messenger substances is a disruption in a cell protein. This protein will play a major role in prophylaxis in the future.
How does Parkinson's manifest itself?
Certain brain cells are destroyed, as a result of which the reaction speed slows down and movements can no longer be carried out quickly and precisely. Speaking also becomes more indistinct and quieter, facial expressions become rigid.
The lack of dopamine and serotonin can also cause mood swings, Depression or listlessness. All of this usually takes place while patients maintain their inner alertness and clarity. The sooner a targeted Parkinson's treatment is started, the better nerve cells can be protected and the process slowed down.
When the disease has progressed, typical symptoms occur: Patients are restricted in their mobility, balance and posture can be impaired. Continuous tensioning of muscles results in stiffness, and the tremors typical of Parkinson's disease patients, which can no longer be deliberately influenced, increase.
For an accurate diagnosis and treatment planning, the patient should undergo a comprehensive clinical examination. This can take a few days. All members of the multidisciplinary treatment team led by Dr. Dieter Volc have been dealing with Parkinson's disease for a long time and can refer to rich experience in dealing with this disease.
Medical checks are required on a regular basis - at least quarterly - and can also be carried out very well by telemedicine (video consultation), as all examinations are made through questioning and observation and no direct physical contact is necessary. This saves the stress of traveling and waiting times.
How is Parkinson's treated?
The aim of drug treatment is to compensate for the lack of dopamine, to slow its degradation and to correct the imbalance other neurotransmitters.
Surgical brain stimulation is a relatively young but very promising procedure. Stimulation electrodes are implanted in the affected areas of the brain. These probes are in contact via a very fine wire with a small device that is implanted under the collarbone and acts as a kind of brain pacemaker. In this way, external stimuli can be sent to those parts of the brain that are affected by Parkinson's disease and typical symptoms can be successfully suppressed or improved.
In addition, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, nutritional advice and psychological support are recommended. Regular training is also important for every Parkinson's patient, as it has a positive effect on the maintenance of mental abilities and emotional well-being.
What is the prognosis for Parkinson's disease?
Parkinson's disease is an incurable, progressive disease. The therapies available relieve symptoms, but not not slow down the course of the disease. The life expectancy of those affected now roughly corresponds to the average of the healthy population. The earlier the diagnosis is made, the better the quality of life can be maintained.
The vaccination against Parkinson's - the remedy of the future
A new Parkinson's vaccine is being tested by an EU consortium in Austria. Dr. Volc is carrying out this study in Vienna. Previous studies have shown promising results. The vaccination is supposed to produce antibodies against a protein that is responsible for the progression of Parkinson's disease. The vaccination should be given at the earliest possible stage of the disease, when there are still no symptoms. For this reason, research is now being carried out into biomarkers that can be used to identify high-risk patients or those who are sick very early.
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