Monthly Archives: February 2012

Is gambling a side effect of medicine?

  • I have heard that gambling is a symptom of Parkinson’s disease?

Impulsivity control problems can be a side effect of dopaminergic medicines used to treat Parkinson’s.  These behaviors are an exaggerated an often uncontrollable form of a particular behavior (these behaviors are often associated with a feeling of  reward or similar pleasurable.) The dopaminergic agonists, ropinirole and pramipexole are most commonly associated with this problem.  Reducing the dose or avoiding certain medicines can help. Examples of impulse control are

  • Increased risk taking
  • Pathologic Gambling
  • Binge Eating
  • Excessive Spending
  • Hypersexual behavior

Learn more


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Filed under Exercise, Medication Side Effects

Medication Assistance

Medication Assistance is available

Are there programs that help people get and afford their medications? 

I have found these resources for people who need to purchase medications but do not have the resources.  Some drug companies will help people without medication coverage and some will also help people who have medicare Part D if they are low income.  You can contact the pharmaceutical company online by searching  the name of your drug on the web and contacting their patient assistance program.  Check out these additional resources:

NeedyMeds: Non profit information resource on programs that may be able to offer help to patients.
Extra  Help: Provided by Medicare to help those with limited resources and income pay for monthly premiums, annual deductibles and prescription co payments related to a medicare prescription drug plan or 800-633-4227
RxAssist  Broad database of patient-assistance programs.  It is part of the Center for Primary Care and Prevention at Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island
RxOutreach  Non Profit that offers prescription medicines to uninsured individuals and families, as well as those who have limited prescription drug coverage
Each plan needs an application and your doctor will have to fill it out as well.
See NWPF Wellness Center for more resources on the web. Learn more
Ruth Egger, MA ,  NWPF Program Director

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Filed under Caregiving, Exercise, Parkinson's Medical therapy, Self-Care

Does stress cause Parkinson’s?

Reduce stress and improve symptoms.

Does stress cause Parkinson’s?  My tremor is only noticeable when I am under  stress.

Although stress may not cause Parkinson’s, it certainly can affect how you feel with the disease, cope and adjust to symptoms and your own tendency to take charge of your condition.

Stress can worsen symptoms, especially tremor and freezing. Steps to reduce stress can improve these symptoms.  Mindfulness therapies such as yoga, guided imagery, meditation and hypnosis can help.  Learn more… 


Filed under Emotional Health, Mindfulness and Spirituality

When to see a physical therapist

A physical therapist can help at any stage of the disease







I was diagnosed with Parkinsons disease 3 years ago and have never seen a physical therapist.  How do I know when I need one?

Physical therapy (PT) helps movement and muscular strength. A physical therapist evaluates and treats problems related to mobility, motor control, and musculoskeletal conditions. The goals of PT are to maintain and restore maximum movement and functional ability throughout life.   A PT can help anywhere from diagnosis to end of life. 

The emphasis is not simply on treating symptoms of balance and coordination, but to retrain  your nerves and muscles to aproximate a more normal movement pattern and to prevent problems with posture, balance, loss of flexability and reduced stamina for daily activities. 

Get the help you need!. Ask your doctor if a referral is best for you. The Wellness Center has more information on how to set up your comprehensive team and includes a checklist to see if you would benefit from PT and other specialists. Learn more

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Filed under Comprehensive Care, Exercise

FDA approves DATScan

Can  Parkinson’s disease be diagnosed by a brain scan?

Image on right shows dopamine cell loss in PD

Brain scan can measure what the brain looks like such as a CT scan or MRI or the brain’s activity levels.  CT and MRIs can be normal in PD so cannot be used for diagnosis.  They can be helpful when there are concerns about other conditions such as stroke.  The DatSCAN was recently approved by the FDA to measure dopamine cell loss in the brain. This scan (pictured here) can be used to differentiate Parkinson’s disease from essential tremor.

 Learn more about making the diagnosis.

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Filed under Symptoms, Diagnosis and Progression

Coconut Oil

I am wondering about coconut oil.  A friend has been encouraging me to take it.  Since I haven’t heard any headlline news about it I wonder if it would really help my Parkinsons. 

Cocunut oil is being tauted as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease and epilepsy.  No well controlled study is available to test its effect on Parkinson’s.  This oil is high in medium chain triglycerides which are broken down by the body to ketones. Ketones are an alternative fuel for the brain (brain’s primary source of fuel is glucose). The idea is that ketones are more readily used by some nerve cells providing much needed energy for cell activity.

You should not use coconut oil unless recommended by your doctor.  True benefits of the oil are not yet proven, not all coconut oils are the same as many contain blends of oil (some that can be harmful), and the effect of coconut oil on cholesterol and lipid levels is not yet clear.

More information on Parkinson’s diet, vitamins and supplements can be found at the NWPF Wellness Center.

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Filed under Nutrition, Vitamins and Supplements

Protein’s effect on medicine

I heard that protein interferes with my medicine. Should I be restricting protein?  Eating a healthy diet is one of the most important lifestyle changes you can make for yourself.   Protein does delay the absorption of levodopa into the bloodstream and across the blood brain barrier. However, protein is an important part of a healthy diet and can not be eliminated from your meals. Learn more


Filed under Nutrition, Vitamins and Supplements, Parkinson's Medical therapy

Restless Leg Syndrome

I have been told I have restless leg syndrome (RLS). What is it and what causes it?  RLS is a sensation of restlessness and discomfort most often located in the legs.  It worsens with rest and sitting, improves with movement such as walking.  Some people describe the sensation as creeping, crawling, gnawing or an urge to move. Learn more

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Filed under Non-movement Symptoms