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Overview & Management of Parkinson’s Disease


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Provides an overview of Parkinson’s disease, including risk factors, stages, symptoms, medications, and treatments. Explores the experience of a person with Parkinson’s disease and special care considerations when hospitalized.

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Are you a nurse, physical therapist, or other healthcare professional who wants to learn more about Parkinson’s disease and how this movement disorder is managed?

Here are the key areas that will be addressed over 5 modules:

  • Approximately 1 million Americans and an estimated 10 million people worldwide are living with Parkinson’s disease (PD);
  • PD is a progressive neurodegenerative disease, and while the exact cause is unknown, there are some known risk factors;
  • PD is characterized by a variety of motor symptoms (such as tremors, rigidity, and slowness of movement) as well as the lesser-known non-motor symptoms and neuropsychiatric symptoms;
  • The various classes of medications (primarily levodopa) used for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease will be discussed with an emphasis on proper dosing and timing to minimize dyskinesias and other side effects;
  • Other strategies to address the non-motor and neuropsychiatric manifestations are reviewed along with surgical management, such as lesioning and deep brain stimulation;
  • In addition to pharmacologic management, there are non-pharmacologic interventions, such as physical, speech, and occupational therapies, as well as exercise, which can play an important role in managing motor symptoms and optimizing function and quality of life;
  • Lastly, the key principles of care for the hospitalized patient with PD are examined, including the importance of giving medications prescribed for motor symptoms on time, which medications should be avoided, and other care considerations.
  • What Parkinson’s disease is and how it is different from other common neurological disorders
  • Key motor, non-motor, and neuropsychiatric symptoms of Parkinson’s disease
  • Medications used to manage the motor symptoms and the importance of proper dosing and timing
  • Other treatment options include surgical and non-pharmacologic approaches to address motor symptoms and other strategies to address non-motor and neuropsychiatric manifestations
  • Key principles of medication administration and care when the person with PD is hospitalized
  • A better understanding of the “lived experience” of a person with PD

Week 1: Overview

  • Describe the pathophysiology of Parkinson’s disease, noting the 3 types and related causative factors
  • State 3 risk factors and 2 factors that may reduce risk
  • Describe the 5 stages of PD and the typical timeline for the development of major symptoms
  • Discuss the typical presentation of PD and how the diagnosis is made

Week 2: Symptoms

  • Define “prodromal” symptoms and state 2 of these early warning signs of PD
  • State and define 3 motor symptoms of PD as outlined in the TRAP acronym
  • State and define 3 non-motor symptoms of PD
  • State and define 2 neuropsychiatric symptoms of PD, as well as cognitive symptoms that can occur over time

Week 3: Non-pharmacologic Interventions

  • Discuss ole of pharmacologic interventions, including the classes of medications used to address the 3 categories of symptoms in PD
  • State action, side effects, dosing, diet, and timing considerations associated with carbidopa/levodopa
  • Note a dopamine agonist used in the treatment of motor symptoms of PD, its action, and side effects
  • List 2 medications that are contraindicated in PD and why

Week 4:

  • Discuss the importance of nonpharmacologic interventions, such as exercise and the role of physical therapy, in PD management
  • Describe surgical interventions for motor symptom management, such as lesioning and deep brain stimulation
  • Discuss psychosocial considerations, including the role of palliative and hospice care as they relate to the various stages of PD

Week 5: The Hospitalized Patient with Parkinson’s Disease

  • Discuss the rationale for special care considerations when the person with PD is hospitalized
  • State 2 common clinical care issues that can occur and why such complications are common
  • State 2 carbidopa-levodopa related care considerations and 2 medications that are avoided in the hospital setting
  • List 2 nursing interventions for patients with PD and their families to optimize outcomes while in the hospital
Overview & Management of Parkinson’s Disease


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