20 ways to fight fatigue in Parkinson’s disease

Parkinsons_fatigueAbout two-thirds of people with Parkinson’s disease report that they feel fatigued or tired. Here are several suggestions for combating fatigue. Try one or several, depending upon your symptoms.

  1. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep.
  2. Ask your bed partner if you snore. You could have sleep apnea.
  3. Develop good sleep habits by going to bed and waking up at about the same time every day.
  4. Minimize bright screens (TV, iPads, cell phones, etc.) within 1-2 hours of going to bed.
  5. If you are getting up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, don’t drink water before bed. Continue reading

For Parkinson’s: Everyday activity better than strenuous exercise

Woman doing laundryHere’s my latest prescription for Parkinson’s: Do the dishes, fold laundry, work in your garden and walk around your neighborhood.

Patients with Parkinson’s disease are often told to engage in (vigorous) exercise, but when my colleagues and I studied 48 individuals with Parkinson’s we found that everyday activities were much more effective than occasional strenuous exercise. We discovered that it is not so much the exercise but the routine activities from daily living that protect motor skills.

Exercise is fine, but there are many barriers to exercising. These include transportation, expense and time commitment. Furthermore, people typically exercise for only a short time and a few times per week.  Continue reading

Free Parkinson’s Movement & Dance classes

PD Dance 2

Patient Dennis Thompson says he feels more limber–mentally and physically–due to University of Michigan’s Parkinson’s Movement & Dance class. And now the class is free.

Parkinson’s and dance don’t usually go together—until now. Read how one patient feels about Turner Senior Resource Center’s Movement & Dance Classes for people with Parkinson’s disease.

With Parkinson’s disease (PD), there’s a feeling of loss, a feeling that I just don’t control my body as well as I used to. Sometimes it feels like a downward slope that doesn’t stop. As you can imagine, I was quite worried about this, and then one day when I was in the Turner Senior Resource Center, I picked up a flyer about their Parkinson’s Movement & Dance Class and decided to give it a try. I’m soon going to sign up for my third session.  Continue reading

Four Key Questions on Parkinson’s Disease

As we continue to remember comedian and actor Robin Williams, and in light of the recently shared news of his being diagnosed with early stage Parkinson’s disease, we sat down with William Dauer, M.D., Associate Professor of Neurology and Director of the University of Michigan Movement Disorders Group to understand more about Parkinson’s and its potential connection with depression.

William Dauer, M.D., Associate Professor of Neurology and Director of the University of Michigan Movement Disorders Group

William Dauer, M.D., Associate Professor of Neurology and Director of the University of Michigan Movement Disorders Group

What is Parkinson’s disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a condition in which there is a progressive death of brain cells, also known as neurodegeneration. The loss of these neurons, which takes place most prominently in areas of the brain that control movement, leads to the characteristic symptoms of the disease: slowness of movement, soft voice, tremors, and difficulties with posture and gait, leading to devastating falls. It is increasingly appreciated, however, that the neurodegeneration in Parkinson’s disease affects the brain widely, leading to many other “non-motor”symptoms – the most feared of which is dementia, but that also includes symptoms such as depression, pain, abnormal sweating, and sleep disturbances.

Is there a cure for Parkinson’s?

No, neurons that use the chemical transmitter dopamine are particularly important for the symptoms of Continue reading

Of mice and muscles: Dystonia discovery may help patients

Persistent team of U-M scientists study neurological condition that twists muscles of kids and adults

Dystonia causes muscles in the neck and limbs to twist or contract uncontrollably, in children and adults.

Dystonia causes muscles in the neck and limbs to twist or contract uncontrollably, in children and adults.

Twist and hold your neck to the left. Now down, and over to the right, until it hurts.

Now imagine your neck – or arms or legs – randomly doing that on their own, without you controlling it.

That’s a taste of what children and adults with a neurological condition called dystonia live with every day – uncontrollable twisting and stiffening of neck and limb muscles.

The mystery of why this happens, and what can prevent or treat it, has long puzzled doctors, who have struggled to help their suffering dystonia patients.

But a persistent team of University of Michigan scientists have finally opened the door to a new way of answering those questions and developing new options for patients.

Continue reading