Most people are familiar with Parkinson’s Disease, but not that many know about its ‘cousin’, Parkinson’s Plus Syndrome. While the two share many symptoms, the causes are entirely different and disease progression happens differently. It is essential, therefore, for patients with Parkinson’s Plus Syndrome to get a correct diagnosis early on. We provide a quick introduction here to help out.
Understanding Parkinson’s Plus Syndrome
Parkinson’s Plus Syndrome refers to a group of neurological conditions that manifest in a similar fashion to Parkinson’s Disease. They attack the brain cells and nerves and lead to movement disorders, just like Parkinson’s. There are several conditions that are categorized as Parkinson’s Plus Syndrome, some of which include Multiple System Atrophy (MSA), Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP), Lewy Body Dementia (LBD), and Corticobasal Ganglionic Degeneration (CBGD). The cause of Parkinson’s Plus Syndrome is unknown, with a combination of genetic and environmental factors usually held responsible.
Symptoms of Parkinson’s Plus Syndrome<
In general, the symptoms of Parkinson’s Plus Syndrome mimic those of Parkinson’s Disease, and may include:
- Tremors in one hand
- Balance and coordination problems
- Difficulty walking or shuffling gait
- Stiff muscles
- Stiffness in the jaw or reduced facial expressions
- Difficulty swallowing
- Cramped handwriting
In addition, each condition classed under Parkinson’s Plus Syndrome has its own set of symptoms by which it can be distinguished.
Symptoms of MSA:
- Slurred speech
- Trouble breathing, especially at night
- Bladder problems
- Low blood pressure
Symptoms of PSP:
- Blurred vision
- Trouble moving the eyes up and down
- Depression or other psychological conditions
- Laughing or crying inappropriately
- Behavioral changes
Symptoms of LBD:
- Reduced awareness of surroundings
- Difficulty with processing information and following instructions
- Mood swings
- Sleep disturbances
Symptoms of CBGD:
- Rapid muscle jerking
- Trouble with movement on one side
- Poor concentration
- Behavioral changes
- Trouble communicating
- Loss of coordination (apraxia)
- Loss of control over one arm
Diagnosing Parkinson’s Plus Syndrome
There is no specific test for Parkinson’s Plus Syndrome. If a patient has been displaying symptoms, the doctor will take a medical history and assess the patient’s ability to walk, sit, stand, and coordinate movements. In addition, there may be some imaging tests recommended, including an MRI, a PET scan, and a CT scan. All of these will help to detect brain abnormalities unique to each of the conditions.
Treatment for Parkinson’s Plus Syndrome
In general, there is no cure for Parkinson’s Plus Syndrome. Each condition progresses at its own rate, which means that the doctor will tailor a treatment plan to you depending on how fast your symptoms are moving. You may be asked to take several of the medicines recommended for Parkinson’s Disease, especially those prescribed for tremors and balance problems. In addition, your Parkinson’s Plus treatment plan will typically include:
- Physical Therapy to strengthen your muscles, improve range of motion, and help you walk safely without falling
- Occupational Therapy to help you perform daily activities with minimal assistance
- Speech Therapy to help you swallow safely and speak clearly
- Stem Cell Therapy is designed to repair the damaged cells within the body by reducing inflammation and modulating the immune system
- Mobility aids like canes, walkers, or wheelchairs to help you get around
- Psychological counseling or medication to help cope with depression, anxiety, or other mood disorders
The doctor will also recommend that you eat a nutritious diet and get regular aerobic exercise to maintain a healthy weight and improve your cardiovascular fitness. The healthier you are in general, the better your outlook will be.
In conclusion, a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Plus Syndrome is tough to receive, but it’s highly treatable with the right intervention. Keep getting check-ups to track how your condition is progressing and let the doctor know how you’re improving so that they can tweak your treatment program as needed. Above all, try to stay positive and do the things you love. You’ll find that you can lead an active, fulfilling life.