There is currently no cure for Parkinson’s disease. It is the second most common neurodegenerative disease with around ten million people affected worldwide and 20,000 to 30,000 patients in Austria, says neurologist Stephanie Hirschbichler, head of the movement disorder clinic at the University Hospital St. Pölten.
For reasons that are currently unknown, the disease leads to the formation of so-called Lewy bodies from misfolded endogenous proteins, leading to increasing neurodegeneration. This means that less of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is necessary for movement, is produced. Even in the early stages of the disease, there is slowing of movement, stiffness of the muscles and shaking (tremor). The “gold standard” in treatment for five decades has been the oral administration of the dopamine precursor levodopa in tablet form, says the neurologist.
A new form of administration has recently become available that promises a better quality of life in advanced disease. This is a portable infusion device that delivers levodopa subcutaneously – i.e. into the subcutaneous fatty tissue. Study results showed an improvement in quality of life and mild to moderate side effects.
88 percent of those affected by Parkinson’s in Austria feel that they are being treated “well” or “rather well”, reports Gerlinde Baldauf from the pharmaceutical company AbbVie from a survey from summer 2022. However, 39 percent say they cannot cope with their disease, 76 percent need it in everyday life Help, for example from relatives.
Exchange with other affected people is particularly important. Neurologist Michaela Steffelbauer, who is also president of Parkinson’s Self-Help Upper Austria, points to this. In self-help groups, in addition to the important exchange, there is also gymnastics, singing and crafts as well as hiking and excursions. Sports could also be rediscovered together.
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