Parkinson's Disease Awareness Month

This month is Parkinson's awareness month, read below to learn more about it and #StartAConversation.

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects dopamine producing neurons in the substantia nigra part of the brain. Around one million americans live with this disease and more than 10 million people around the world.Symptoms for parkinson’s disease develop through the years and it varies in each person affected by it. There is no cure yet, but there are different treatment options that can improve symptoms.

Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms

Some of the symptoms include:

  • Tremors

  • Slowness of movement (bradykinesia)

  • Rigid Muscles

  • Balance problems

  • Changes in speech and writing

Parkinson’s Disease Causes

Most of the causes of the symptoms for Parkinson happen due to a loss of neurons that produce dopamine, which in turn causes abnormal brain activity. The exact cause is still unknown but there are some factors that might be related to it, including:

  • Genes and specific genetic mutations

  • Environmental Factors, including toxins

Tips for Caregivers

  • Find support from a group or an association, like P.A.C.

  • Involve an expert or a professional

  • Organize and plan your care

  • Take care of yourself too!


Participate in Parkinsons Study Using In-App Tests

Caregivers whose senior clients have Parkinson's disease know that it can affect movement in several ways, most noticeably in the ability to hold objects or walk in a normal stride. The Parkinson mPower study app provides in-app daily tests to gauge abilities of patients with Parkinson's and transmit the data to scientists for research purposes. 

The study is conducted by Sage Bionetworks, a nonprofit, looking to help determine why symptoms differ between individuals who have Parkinson's disease and why symptoms and side effects vary over time. The app uses surveys and tests through the phone sensors to determine daily abilities and track symptoms over time. 

Users first need to set up an account and consent to share the results of their trials from the app. A background survey that needs to only be taken once allows senior clients the chance to give the researchers background on themselves and their individual experience with Parkinson's disease.

The three main abilities the phone sensors test are gait, balance and speaking. For the walking activity, users need to place their phone in a pocket or bag and walk 20 steps in a straight line. The phone uses GPS data to track the results. 

For the tapping speed activity, users must place two fingers on the phone screen and tap back and forth as quickly as possible for 20 seconds. The app records the overall number of taps and the consistency of the timing between taps. For the voice activity, users need to record themselves saying, "ahhhhh" for as long as they can at a steady volume into the microphone on their phone. 

Caregivers should encourage their senior clients participating in the study to take each test three times per day. The app needs users to accurately record whether they are performing the activity before taking a Parkinson medication, just after taking a Parkinson medication or if they don't take Parkinson medication. On the Dashbord within the app, users can see their performance on the tests charted out over time to recognize patterns. 

Other areas of the app highlight the study, the researchers and further information on Parkinson's disease itself. The app offers tips on living with Parkinson's disease to minimize symptoms, such as healthy eating, exercise, and avoiding falls. Senior caregivers can use this section to learn more about the disease if their senior client is newly diagnosed. 

The Parkinson mPower study app is available for Apple platforms. 

Senior caregivers, let us know your feedback on this app and keep us posted if you discovers additional apps that assist with caregiving duties and help relieve caregiver stress. You may also refer-a-friend to a senior caregiving job and win prizes weekly and monthly on Caregiverlist. 

-Paige Krzysko

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