“Unfortunately, the results confirm you are suffering from Parkinson’s Disease” is a phrase etched into the minds of nearly all Parkinson’s patients. Once the initial shock passes, most people assume the worse case scenario and think, “How long do I have left?”. Fortunately, with appropriate treatment, Parkinson’s disease prognosis is not as bleak as people first imagine.
Mortality Rate and Co-Mortality
Parkinson’s is typically a condition whose symptoms deteriorate over time with involuntary movements becoming progressively problematic. However, it is not fatal in itself and with appropriate treatment and care, the majority of patients will usually have a normal life span with a reasonable quality of life. For example, some research has indicated the following interesting results:
|Years of Parkinson’s||Mortality Rate
– compared to a person of same age without Parkinson’s
Mortality associated with Parkinson’s disease is usually termed co-mortality, as it results not directly from the condition itself but from secondary complications. Parkinson’s co-mortality is usually associated with motor related issues and reduced activity, or deteriorating involuntary movements and a lack of postural control. For example:
- Ulceration/bed sores/pressure sores leading to septicemia.
- Urinary tract infections and resulting kidney problems.
Management of Parkinson’s
To achieve an optimal outcome, it is essential that the patient receives specialist management of their condition with regard to both treatment and care. This is especially important in the case of Parkinson’s disease, given that the types of symptoms and their severity, the response to medication and the rate of disease progression varies significantly between individuals. For example, the rate of symptom progression can vary by as much as 20+ years between patients and the deterioration in medication effectiveness by 2-10+ years.
Parkinson’s and Employment
In fact, depending on the individual in question and their type of employment, Parkinson’s patients may be able to continue to work part part or full time in the early to mid stages of the disease. Health/safety legislation and insurance terms would impact both the Parkinson’s patient and their employer (especially if the job involved any danger) and usually the person would be required to have regular medical assessments to ascertain their suitability to continue to work. If both the patient and employer are able to work together on this issue, it might be possible for the individual to have their working environment adapted to their needs or be found suitable alternative work.
Therefore, at this point in time, the prognosis for most individuals means that they can expect to a lead long, productive life for many years following their Parkinson’s diagnosis. This will involve the person receiving ongoing specialist disease management so that both care and treatment are tailored to the individuals needs.
The outlook regarding Parkinson’s disease is an ever improving one. Not only will ongoing evaluation of existing therapies improve their efficiency but various new treatments and experimental drugs are under evaluation. In addition, we are now at the dawn of a new era of medicine regarding our ability to control and manipulate at the cellular and genetic level. Research concerning stem cell therapy, genetic engineering and gene therapy has made significant advances in the last few years and offers considerable hope to patients suffering from a range of conditions, including Parkinson’s disease.
Following Parkinson’s disease prognosis, the next article in the series will look into the range of Parkinson’s treatments currently available, namely Parkinson’s disease treatment – Pharmaceutical.