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New Treatment for Parkinson’s Patients


parkinsonsFrom Florida Hospital - Apopka

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, you know how difficult it can be regulating medications. Now there’s a new way to keep them more consistent.

DUOPA is a new, FDA-approved method for treating patients with advanced Parkinson’s where oral medications aren’t as effective, and it’s been truly rewarding for patients, says Sheila Baez-Torres, MD, neurologist and movement disorder specialist, at Florida Hospital.

“It takes away the unpredictable and unreliable days patients may have had when taking medication by mouth,” she says. In other words, DUOPA can provide patients with more consistency in their daily lives because it ensures the drug will be absorbed consistently.

What exactly is it? DUOPA is a system of delivering medication directly into the GI tract of Parkinson’s patients.

“The procedure isn’t much more involved than a simple endoscopic look into the stomach,” says Robert Hawes, MD, gastroenterologist and internal medicine specialist, at Florida Hospital, who implants the devices in patients.

A small external pump, about the size of a small paperback book, delivers Carbidopa and Levodopa, two long-standing medications for Parkinson’s, in a gel form via a tube implanted in the small intestine.

It’s much more effective than taking the medication orally because it’s released continuously through a programmed pump system. There’s no down time waiting for the next dose to take effect. Patients and relatives are trained to maintain and change the system.

“Based on their oral dose we calculate a morning, maintenance and even a bonus dose,” says Dr. Baez-Torres. “The therapy benefits patients for 16 hours per day. Usually it’s used during the day time, when patients are more active, and then at night the pump is turned off.”

“What’s exciting about all of this is that the spectrum of therapies is getting better,” she says. “There are more choices available now for treatment, and it is considered as good as the surgical treatment options like deep-brain stimulation.”

“Any medication for treatment of Parkinson’s is made to mimic dopamine, a substance that Parkinson’s patients have a shortage of,” she says. “Because of this, side effects can include nausea, dizziness and involuntary movement.”

However, patients are typically already familiar with them because they have been taking the same medication orally.

Of course, patients should combine their treatment with exercise. An active exercise program is extremely beneficial.

“We don’t have any medication that provides the same benefits as exercise does,” she says. “For Parkinson’s patients, exercise is a must. Exercising is the only therapy that is an investment in your health, but also an investment for your future. It helps with balance, emotions, heart health, weight and more.”

The National Parkinson’s Foundation estimates about 1 million Americans live with the disease.

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Florida Hospital - Apopka, Parkinson's Disease


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