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Managing exercise, diet and medication for an active life

An estimated 1 million Americans live with Parkinson’s disease (PD) — an age-related degenerative neurological disorder. Many struggle with tremors, stiffness, slowness of movement and impaired balance. According to the National Parkinson Foundation, although the average age of onset is 60, it is estimated that five to 10 percent of all persons with PD are diagnosed prior to age 40. The cause of PD is unknown, and there is presently no cure; however there are treatment options to help manage the symptoms.

Dr. Ramon L. Rodriguez, director of clinical services at the University of Florida’s Movement Disorders Center, sees Parkinson’s patients on a daily basis. While he is familiar with the challenges they face, Rodriguez believes these patients can experience a fulfilling life.

“Even though there is no cure for Parkinson’s,” Rodriguez says, “it is possible for patients to learn how to live well through a combination of activities and treatments that can help control the symptoms of the disease.”

Depending on the individual patient’s history and the progression of the disease, a person’s physician may prescribe any of several medical or surgical treatments available — and also will emphasize the importance of an ongoing commitment to regular exercise, rest and proper diet.

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There are several medications available to treat Parkinson’s disease, including once-daily medications that can help people manage the symptoms of the disease.

Many people living with Parkinson’s have found both traditional and creative ways to successfully manage the disease and live their lives to the fullest. According to the National Parkinson Foundation Education Series resource guides, the following are a few tips on managing PD:

—Exercise Regularly
If you have Parkinson’s disease, exercise is extremely important. Recent research shows that regular exercise can help people with PD stay more flexible, improve posture and make overall movement easier.

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—Eat Right
People with PD are at an increased risk for malnutrition. Yet, with attention to diet, people with PD can feel better, ward off nutrition-related diseases and prevent hospitalization.

—Find the Right Treatment for You
Medical research has provided us with numerous medications which, when used alone, or more often in proper combination, can provide significant relief of the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Intelligent use of these medications can enhance a patient’s quality of life.

—Make Time for Rest
Sleep plays a vital role in maintaining mental health and performance for all human beings. It is especially important for individuals with PD, who require significant levels of energy to function at their greatest ability.


Increased PD Incidence Shown in Hispanics

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A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in 2003 examined how Parkinson’s disease (PD) varies by age, gender and race/ethnicity. Like previous studies, it found that the rate of PD rises sharply as Americans age. However, the study also revealed that PD incidence was the highest among both Hispanic men and women of all the groups studied.
According to Dr. Ramon L. Rodriguez, director of clinical services at the University of Florida’s Movement Disorders Center, Hispanics often do not have access to the information they need the most.
“Unfortunately, there are not a lot of resources for Spanish-speaking patients dealing with Parkinson’s disease,” Rodriguez says. “Some Parkinson’s advocacy groups and companies, such as Teva Neuroscience, Inc., currently are launching Hispanic initiatives designed to educate and increase awareness about PD through the development of Spanish language resources.”
“Moving Forward,” Teva’s practical guide to living with PD, recently was translated into Spanish. The Spanish version is titled, “Hacia adelante,” a comprehensive tool that outlines what to expect when a person is diagnosed with PD, where to find help and resources, how to explain Parkinson’s to family and friends, and other useful information. To obtain a free copy of the resource guide, ask your physician to contact their Teva representative, or visit www.parkinsonshealth.com.

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