Brain Games Help Parkinson's Patients

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FLORIDA - PARKINSON’S & MEMORY: In addition to the motor symptoms in Parkinson's disease, there are also cognitive symptoms which may be evident even in the early stages of the disease. These may include deficits in executive function (especially planning and attention), set-shifting (ability to alternate between two or more tasks), and memory. Approximately 25%-30% of Parkinson's patients develop dementia. It is not yet known whether dementia is actually a symptom of Parkinson's disease or whether patients with Parkinson's disease are for some reason also at higher risk for dementia. A large number of Parkinson's patients also experience psychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety, or sleep disorders.

Because Parkinson's disease damages neurons in the substantia nigra which produce dopamine, treatment usually involves drugs which work to counteract this shortage of dopamine. Parkinson's patients may benefit from treatment with several kinds of drugs simultaneously. These drugs can often combat the motor symptoms for a long time, but as the disease progresses and the substantia nigra continues to degrade, the drugs eventually become less effective.

Some patients whose motor symptoms cannot be controlled by medication undergo brain surgery to destroy portions of the brain regions responsible for some of the motor symptoms in Parkinson's disease, or benefit from deep brain stimulation (DBS) -- using thin wires to stimulate electrical activity in the brain. There has also been controversial research involving implantation of cells from aborted fetuses into the brains of Parkinson's patients in an attempt to regrow neurons in the substantia nigra; more recently, scientists are exploring the possibility of using stem cells isolated from healthy adults or grown in the laboratory. As yet, this work is still highly experimental. (Source: Memorylossonline.com)

UNIVERSITY OF MARLYAND STUDY: Researchers are looking to study the benefits of exercise for fitness, walking, balance, and memory. They are still enrolling participants, and those eligible for the study are people who have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and have mild to moderate gait or balance difficulty. The study is being conducted at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland.