In Austria, 20,000 to 30,000 people are currently affected by Parkinson’s disease. Good symptom control with tablets is possible, especially at the beginning of the disease. Later, device-assisted therapies can enable extensive independence. In “deep brain stimulation,” thin electrodes are inserted into the brain in a surgical procedure. The electrodes emit impulses that stimulate the nerve cells in the brain regions affected by Parkinson’s disease. Subcutaneous infusion therapy is an alternative – it is minimally invasive and does not require surgery.
- Also read: Parkinson’s – new medication promises improvement
Refusal of treatment
According to a survey by the opinion research institute Integral, only 19 percent of patients with advanced Parkinson’s disease currently receive device-assisted therapy. Many of those affected reject it – for example because of fear of complications, general fear of the operation or poor results. “However, 39 percent say they cannot cope with their illness,” says Andrea Maier, Medical Director of the pharmaceutical company AbbVie Austria. Around 78 percent of patients need help in everyday life. Most are supported by spouses or life partners (59 percent) or other relatives (19 percent).
- You might also be interested in: “Parkinson’s is not for weaklings”
“After starting device-assisted therapy, many patients say: ‘If I had known how well the therapy worked, I would have chosen it earlier.’ Many of the stresses that occurred under tablet therapy suddenly disappear – instead, they experience an absolute increase in quality of life,” says Stephanie Hirschbichler, neurology specialist in St. Pölten.
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