Vital Signs Volume 13, Issue 1 | Page 4

Is there a test in which you ’ re able to measure the level of dopamine in the brain ? The DaTscan ( DaT = Dopamine Transporters ) detects the presence of dopamine in the brain . It can

“ also detect Parkinson ’ s Disease and is accurate in 98 percent of patients . However , the DaTscan is

usually not done , because the disease is often clinically obvious . An MRI is sometimes performed to exclude other conditions , but is usually not necessary with classical symptoms .

Once a patient has been diagnosed with the disorder , how do you go about administering treatment ?
The first thing I do is determine if the symptoms exhibited are mild or severe .

If the symptoms are mild and the patient has little to no cognitive impairment , then I may prescribe a neuroprotective substance like MAO B inhibitors . These have been shown to delay the progression of Parkinson ’ s Disease . They are given so that more dopamine is available in the brain for a longer period of time . I also highly recommend rigorous exercise 60 minutes a day for five days a week . This has shown significant delay in the onset of Parkinson ’ s Disease . There are antioxidant properties to exercise , and it helps with memory . There are other physical activities which can help the brain such as dancing and balancing exercises , tai chi , yoga and mindfulness meditation .

If a patient follows all a doctor ’ s recommendations and uses the appropriate medicine , can Parkinson ’ s Disease go away ?
Once Parkinson ’ s Disease comes , it is there forever . But , patients can still have a natural life span .

The main difficulties arise from complications due to the disease ’ s symptoms . For example , they may
have difficulty breathing or swallowing , or fall frequently . Those are dangerous symptoms which must be considered .

Will you be seeing these patients for the rest of their lives ? Practically . When they get severe to the point that medication is no longer very beneficial , I have

“ colleagues that I refer these patients to for neurological stimulation .

Do you see many patients with early-onset Parkinson ’ s Disease ? Sometimes , yes . I had a man visit me who was fairly young . He was in a meeting and his hand

“ started shaking without his control . The only symptom he had was tremors , but it was still good that

he sought medical attention right away .

4 VITAL SIGNS Volume 13 • Issue 1