Are There New Treatments For People With Parkinson’s Disease?

by Barbara Fradkin

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects predominately the dopamine-producing neurons in the part of the brain called the substantia nigra. Symptoms can develop up to 10 years before a diagnosis and vary from one person to another. People with PD may experience tremor, slowness, reduced movement, limb stiffness, gait and balance problems.

During the seven years I have been working with the Parkinson’s community, I’ve been amazed at how treatment options are changing. And they are needed! Mayo Clinic and Lancet Neurology studies show that more people are being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, essential tremors and Parkinson’s related dementias than ever before. Environmental factors and an aging population are driving this disturbing trend.

Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) and Focused Ultrasound (FUS) are procedures aimed at easing Parkinson’s uncontrolled, involuntary movements or “dyskinesia.”  These may be options for people who have break-through complications with the medication levodopa, or for people who have tremors that cannot be controlled with medication.

Focused Ultrasound

Thanks to research studies, the FDA has approved focused ultrasound (FUS) for Parkinson’s tremor and other Parkinson’s symptoms. Using MRI imaging, doctors guide ultrasound beams to destroy tiny areas of cells that cause Parkinson’s motor symptoms. This non-invasive, non-surgical procedure has a quick recovery time and reduced risk of infection and damage to non-targeted areas of the brain.

Deep Brain Stimulation

DBS involves implanting electrodes within certain areas of the brain. These electrodes produce electrical impulses that regulate abnormal impulses. The patient is usually awake and talking during the procedure. Once in place, the electrodes are connected to a battery-operated device placed under the skin. This “neurostimulator” delivers continuous pulses through the electrodes, programmed by the physician.

Join me and the Brevard Parkinson’s Alliance September 8th at One Senior Place in Viera, for a discussion about the guided imaging ultrasound treatment. RSVP online at or call 321-751-6771.

One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. Send questions to, call 321-751-6771 or visit The Experts in Aging at Barbara Fradkin is the Co-president of the Brevard Parkinson’s Alliance, a Social Worker, Certified Care Manager and the former Director of One Senior Place, Viera.