My husband was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease about 8 to 9 years ago. In the beginning he could do all his chores (bathing, etc.) on his own. But now he needs constant help and lately he has suffered repeated falls while getting up from a chair, while turning, bending. My questions: Are these falls due to the disease itself or due to side effects of the medication? His dosage was adjusted but even that has not helped much. The neurologist is now of the view that my husband is actually suffering from a condition called Progressive Supranuclear Palsy. Is this an advanced stage of Parkinson disease? Almost all his falls have caused head wounds, esp on the skull cap and the brow. Could the cumululative effect of these falls result in any other type of brain problems? His speech has become so muffled and indistinctive that even when I’m sitting right next to him, it’s difficult to hear or understand him. Please clarify and also provide a solution for his falls.
PReena Sharma, Mumbai
arkinson’s disease affects the motor functions. As the disease progresses many patients tend to lose postural balance to a sizeable degree. There is however a variety of the same group of diseases called Parkinson plus syndrome or PSP (Progressive Supranuclear Palsy) where falls are a prominent feature. Unfortunately this subgroup generally doesn’t respond to drugs. The only solution for managing these patients is to provide adequate attention and care so that the falls are limited. Attending a Parkinson’s Support Group meeting would be a good idea to start with. There you’ll learn more about the kind of care your husband needs, like physical therapy, speech therapy, etc. Some patients with Parkinson’s disease do go on to develop dementia, and this is not in any way related to the falls they experience. The disease itself can bring about changes in the brain that affect mental functions. So apart from poor motor function, the patient may experience memory loss, hallucinations and so on.