Parkinson disease or PD is a progressive degenerative disorder of the central nervous system (brain) that frequently impairs motor skills, speech and other mental functions. PD belongs to a group called movement disorders. This is seen as muscle rigidity, tremor and a general slowing of physical movement.
Who does Parkinson’s Disease typically affect?
Adults of all age groups are affected. It is not considered to be a fatal disease since individuals survive for many years and usually die of another cause. In the late stages of the disease, PD may cause problems with choking, pneumonia and falls that lead to death. The average prevalence is estimated to be from 120-180 of 100,000 among Caucasian Americans.
What are the most common symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease?
Tremor, maximal when the limb is at rest and decreased with voluntary movement. The tremor is unilateral at the onset. Rigidity, in combination with a resting tremor, produces a ratchety (cogwheel) rigidity when the limb is passively moved. Postural instability is a failure of postural reflexes which frequently leads to an impaired balance and sometimes serious falls.
What are the traditional treatments for Parkinson’s Disease?
A decrease of dopamine in the substantia nigra portion of the brain is believed to be the major abnormality in the brain. Levodopa is the most widely used form of treatment. L-dopa is transformed into dopamine in the dopaminergic neurons. COMT inhibitors are also used to prolong the effect of L-dopa. Surgery and deep brain stimulation with electrodes is also sometimes used as well as a procedure known as pallidotomy.
Why is Parkinson’s Disease amenable to oxygen therapy?
Extensive animal research has demonstrated a non-specific chronic inflammatory condition in the substantia nigra of the brain. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) has been shown to be an anti-inflammatory drug in many conditions. Anecdotal evidence of many patients with well established PD have been treated with HBOT for other conditions such as diabetic foot ulcers. For example, a patient with advanced PD who is confined to a wheelchair may get up and walk across the room after a series of HBOT.
What benefits can I expect from oxygen therapy for Parkinson’s Disease?
Since every patient is different it is hard to predict the result in each individual case. However, we know from 50 years of experience that HBOT is safe and will not make the patient worse. The usual course of oxygen therapy is once daily, five days a week (M-F) for eight weeks. If a significant response is noted after 40 HBOT additional treatments may be helpful.
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