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Article from June 2017 E-Newsletter

Do you take your Parkinson’s disease (PD) medication every day, support others living with the disease and stay up-to-date on the latest news, but still wish you could do more to combat the disease? Think about participating in a clinical trial. Clinical trials have revolutionized PD treatments, giving us breakthroughs such as Levodopa and deep brain stimulation, dramatically improving patients’ lives.

A clinical trial is a study in which participants receive a specific treatment to assess if it is beneficial to patients. Studies in PD might test a new medication to treat symptoms or slow the progression of the disease, or test new uses for older medications, including medications approved for other diseases.

Clinical trials in people typically involve four phases. In Phase I, or early stage research, scientists evaluate the safety, dosage and any side effects of the investigational medication. Early stage research in PD previously tested a small group of healthy volunteers without the disease. More recently, it has expanded to include those living with PD, too – making these patients the first to receive promising experimental treatments. For PD patients, this is significant because it means therapies can move quicker through the development process, providing faster access to innovative treatments.

Research is vital to discovering new PD treatments – and someday a cure – to help today’s patients and future generations. Right here in Florida, we’re working on important early stage PD research to find tomorrow’s treatment breakthroughs. You can play an important role.

Article written by David Wyatt, MD, Vice President, Medical Affairs Miami Clinic | inVentiv Health

Article from May 2017 E-Newsletter

Aquatic Therapy can be very beneficial to those individuals living with Parkinson’s disease (PD). For many patients, aquatic therapy can be an advantageous way to treat many symptoms of Parkinson’s including: gait and balance impairments, muscle weakness, rigidity, and muscle and joint pain. The pool provides an environment where a patient can exercise without a fear of falling.

Many people with Parkinson’s are referred to physical therapy due to balance deficits. A fear of falling can make a person’s balance even worse. Exercising and challenging one’s balance in the water, reduces the risk for falls and eliminates patient’s fears of falling while doing exercise. Furthermore, forces of turbulence in the water challenge balance and coordination by forcing people to engage their core muscles. Strengthening the core muscles in this way can help to improve the flexed posture often seen in PD patients. The turbulence also facilitates central stabilization to occur prior to movement, which is essential for a correct gait pattern and normal reciprocal arm movement with gait.

Two other common symptoms in Parkinson’s are tremors and rigidity or decreased flexibility. The buoyancy of the water, along with the therapeutic warmth of the water decreases muscle activity, which leads to relaxation, which could decrease tremors and improve flexibility. In addition, the buoyancy of the water diminishes the effects of gravity helping decrease pain. Many patients with Parkinson’s’ suffer from low back pain most likely due to the rigidity in their trunks as well as flexed forward posture. The bradykinesia or slowness of movement that impedes many Parkinson’s patients can also be addressed successfully in the water. The water allows patients to make higher amplitude movements which are close to “normal” movements.

Article written by Erica Leiva, DPT, Outpatient Therapy Team Leader and Francine Wade, PTA, Certified Aquatic Specialist | HealthSouth Sunrise Outpatient Center

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