Parkinson’s disease patients seek relief

Before her diagnosis, Cidney Donahoo had an image in her head of what Parkinson’s disease looked like: actor Michael J. Fox.

“I knew that Michael J. Fox had it, and I knew that it involved a tremor and that’s literally all I knew,” she said, remembering seeing the actor shake vigorously.

When she was diagnosed six years ago with Parkinson’s, the now 53-year-old Donahoo had already figured out she and Fox had something in common.

“I kind of knew what was going on, so it wasn’t a big shock when I was diagnosed,” she said.

Her initial symptom — a finger twitch that made it difficult to write and type — was the first of several. Donahoo said she now suffers from tremors, fatigue, stiffness and an overall slowness of movement.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke said Parkinson’s disease results from the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells. In Southern Nevada, 15,000 to 18,000 people are believed to suffer from Parkinson’s, a progressive movement disorder, University of Nevada School of Medicine associate professor of neurology Dr. Eric Farbman said.

Farbman said tremors are just one symptom of Parkinson’s. People with the disease may also suffer slowness, stiffness, depression, constipation, sleep disorders and loss of smell. They can fall often and experience balance problems, Farbman said.

Farbman, director of the medical school’s movement disorders center, is interested in Parkinson’s research and is spearheading the school’s involvement in two clinical trials.

The first trial, for people with more advanced forms of Parkinson’s, involves inhalation of levodopa, an already popular Parkinson’s drug.

Levodopa is often given to Parkinson’s patients orally, allowing their nerve cells to make dopamine. When patients run out of medication or the drugs’ effects wear off, Parkinson’s sufferers can experience “off” times, during which they may experience involuntary stiffness.

The trial aims to provide Parkinson’s sufferers with inhaled levodopa and to reduce or eliminate the negative impact of off periods.

Farbman is also involved in a second trial that aims to use isradipine to slow the progression of Parkinson’s in more recently diagnosed people with mild cases. Isradipine is a Food and Drug Administration-approved medication for high blood pressure.

That trial is not enrolling now, he said.

Jamillah Ali-Rahman, executive director of local nonprofit Friends of Parkinson’s, described Farbman as a “dear, encouraging person” who keeps in touch with the local Parkinson’s community and advocacy groups.

She added that she encourages those with Parkinson’s to take a leap of faith and join clinical trials.

“What clinical trials will do is help us find the solution,” she said.

New methods of receiving levodopa have been approved in the past few years, and research in Parkinson’s is an extremely active field, Farbman said.

On Tuesday, a panel of FDA advisers who make nonbinding recommendations to the FDA considered approval of pimavanserin to treat psychotic problems associated with Parkinson’s, according to The Associated Press. Many panelists argued the drug’s modest benefits outweighed its link to serious adverse health effects.

Donahoo said her husband, who doesn’t have Parkinson’s, is enrolled in a separate clinical trial that seeks to investigate potential Parkinson’s biomarkers.

She compared the disease to a terrible buffet where no one gets to pick their array of symptoms. She said it can feel as though she’s simply waiting for the next bit of medication to feel better.

“The only way the research is going to move forward is if people participate,” she said.

Contact Pashtana Usufzy at pusufzy@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4563. Find @pashtana_u on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Life
Camp Broadway teaches kids how to sing and dance
The Smith Center's seventh annual Camp Broadway musical theater program gives 150 kids ages 6-17 an opportunity to learn musical theater skills from industry professionals over a five-day period. Marcus Villagran/ Las Vegas Review-Journal @brokejournalist
Las Vegas police officer on being PETA's Sexiest Vegan Next Door
Las Vegas police officer David Anthony talks vegan lifestyle and how he feels about being voted PETA's sexiest Vegan next door from his home on Monday, July 9, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
'NO H8' Campaign comes to Las Vegas
Hundreds of locals participate in the NO H8 campaign founded by Adam Bouska and Jeff Parshley as a response to Proposition 8, a California ban on same-sex marriage. The campaign has since evolved to represent equal treatment for all. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Over 40,000 People Attend The 4th Of July Parade In Summerlin In Las Vegas
Over 40,000 People Attend The 4th Of July Parade In Summerlin In Las Vegas. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Star Wars and Golden Knights mashup at downtown art shop
Star Wars and Vegas Golden Knights fans attend the Boba Fett Golden Knight Paint Class at The Bubblegum Gallery in Las Vegas, Friday, June 29, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Bark-Andre Furry meets Capitals superfan Ovie the Bulldog
Two of NHL's furriest fans met at the Forum Shops in Caesars Palace on Tuesday, June 18, 2018, in Las Vegas. Vegas Golden Knights superfan Bark-Andre Furry and Washington Capitals superfan Ovie the Bulldog shared a plate of meatballs and spaghetti with help from Logan, "The Girl with the Hat." (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
ad-infeed_1
ads_infeed_2
Local Spotlight
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like