In addition to a drug treatment aimed at increasing the dopamine content in the brain, various other therapies can also be used in Parkinson's disease. These can either be an alternative to the classic therapy options or be an adjunct therapy. Not to be underestimated is the importance of complementary treatments such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy as well as speech therapy and psychotherapy.
Therapy with anticholinergics
In Parkinson's disease, there is an excess of other messengers such as acetylcholine due to dopamine deficiency in the brain. This excess causes typical Parkinson's symptoms, such as resting tremor. With the help of anticholinergics, which act as an antagonist of acetylcholine, the imbalance can be corrected again.
However, the intake of anticholinergics is associated with a variety of side effects, so the drugs are rarely used. They are mainly used when the tremor is particularly pronounced and can not be improved by the standard drugs. Anticholinergics are prescribed primarily to younger Parkinson's patients, as older patients usually tolerate the drug poorly. The medication should not be used if memory disorders are already present.
Surgical therapy rather rare
Before effective Parkinson's drugs were used, surgical interventions were often used to treat the disease. However, there were some severe side effects, which is why surgical procedures in Parkinson's are nowadays only carried out in isolated cases. In general, surgery only takes place if drug therapy no longer shows sufficient effect.
If Parkinson's is treated surgically, a high-frequency deep brain stimulation is performed today. The patient is a kind of brain pacemaker used. This generates and controls electrical impulses, with the help of which electrodes certain brain regions are stimulated and influenced in their activity. This procedure is designed to reduce Parkinson's symptoms. Particularly good results can be achieved with great immobility and massive tremors.
High-frequency deep brain stimulation can only be performed if there is idiopathic Parkinson's disease and the patient is under 75 years of age. It is also important that there is no dementia or depression. Since high-frequency deep brain stimulation is a very special procedure, it is only offered in a few clinics in Germany.
Complementary treatment for Parkinson's
In addition to the drug treatment of physiotherapy in Parkinson's is of particular importance. For the affected patients, it is extremely important to regularly practice everyday activities such as walking and standing in order to be able to remain independent for as long as possible. Parkinson's patients should also exercise regularly to strengthen their muscles and train movement. Suitable sports include hiking, swimming and gymnastics.
If the progression of the disease worsens speaking and swallowing, a speech therapy training is useful. Among other things, the pronunciation, the voice and the speed of speech, but also the face facial expression are trained. Support for everyday activities such as body care, eating and dressing, however, offer occupational therapy. If Parkinson's disease causes psychological problems, it may make sense to visit a psychotherapist.
Patients with Parkinson's often also take advantage of alternative medical therapies, including acupuncture, massages and relaxation, breathing and meditation exercises. So far, a positive effect on the quality of life of those affected and an improvement in the symptoms could not be scientifically proven.
Finally, it is also important that Parkinson's patients eat healthily. Ideally, those affected should take as low-fat food and be sure to drink enough.