Parkinson's Disease Treatments
Everyone with Parkinson’s disease (PD) experiences symptoms differently, so there’s no one standard treatment for the disease.
UT Southwestern’s team of movement disorders specialists works closely with ancillary services, including psychiatry and speech, physical, and occupational therapy to provide you with individualized and comprehensive care.
Although PD is a degenerative disorder of the brain of unknown cause and without a cure, the condition is imminently treatable because we understand much about neurotransmitter abnormalities. The bulk of our drug treatment efforts are directed at correcting or compensating for dopamine deficiency, the dominant feature of this disorder.
Because our team includes both neurologists and neurosurgeons, we can offer additional strategies to treat Parkinson’s, including deep brain stimulation. Additionally, as an academic medical center, we offer access to the latest treatments through clinical trials.
We offer a full range of options to treat Parkinson’s disease, including:
- Occupational and physical therapy: This is important because exercise can slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease. Exercise programs can also help people with PD stay active and relatively limber, as well as improve balance and motor coordination.
- Medication: Once drug therapy is needed – and many experts now believe treatment should be initiated immediately after diagnosis – we evaluate the options that will be most effective for patients. This includes determining the benefits and disadvantages of medications, such as levodopa (which is commonly used to treat PD), dopamine agonists, monoamine oxidase type-B inhibitors, and catechol-O-methyltransferase inhibitors.
- Medication may help manage problems with walking, movement, and tremor. People with Parkinson’s disease have low concentrations of brain dopamine, a specific signaling chemical (neurotransmitter) in the brain. Some medications can increase or substitute for dopamine.
- You may see significant improvement after beginning Parkinson’s disease treatment. Over time, however, the benefits of drugs frequently diminish or become less consistent.
- Botulinum toxin injection: UT Southwestern specializes in the use of botulinum toxin (Botox) injections for a variety of conditions, including dystonia and Parkinson’s disease, that result in involuntary muscle contractions. Botulinum toxin weakens whatever muscle it is injected into, thus promoting relaxation of muscle spasm. This can be a particularly effective treatment for PD patients with dystonia (involuntary cramping movements of the limbs or neck).
- Deep brain stimulation (DBS) therapy: One of our areas of expertise is this surgical treatment, which improves symptoms by modulating electrical activity in selected areas of the brain. For patients that are candidates for DBS, we’re able to improve symptoms such as tremors, slowness of movement, and rigidity. The surgery often will allow for a reduction of medication dosage and potentially alleviate troubling dyskinesias resulting from levodopa (Sinemet). Additionally, motor fluctuations caused by medication losing its efficacy can be reduced with DBS.
Rehabilitation is key to an effective Parkinson’s disease treatment plan. Exercise programs can help people with PD stay active and relatively limber, as well as improve balance and motor coordination.
Request an Appointment
To schedule an appointment with a Parkinson’s disease specialist at UT Southwestern’s facilities in Dallas, or to learn more about our services, request an appointment or call 214-645-8300.