A New Option for People with Parkinson's Disease
March 8, 2017
The “on-off” phenomenon
People with Parkinson’s disease have to take medication three to four times a day. As it gets absorbed, the levels of medication in the body fluctuate, appearing in peaks and troughs. “When the medicine is at a peak level, the patient is highly functioning. They are active, experiencing less tremors, and are up and walking,” says gastroenterologist Dr. Rajeev Vasudeva. “When the medicine is at a trough level, the patients become rigid and the tremors increase.”
This is known as Parkinson’s “on-off” phenomenon.
Some patients experience more flex than others due to the way their bodies absorb the drug. Because Parkinson’s disease can affect a person’s ability to empty stomach contents, the absorption of medication passing through the stomach can be a significant concern. Patients with too much fluctuation in their drug levels feel miserable.
Progress in the Treatment for Parkinson's Disease
A new evolution in medical treatment for Parkinson’s disease is showing promising results for keeping people with Parkinson's "on."
The procedure works by changing the way a patient’s medication is delivered and absorbed. Research has shown that when medication is infused directly to the small bowel in a continuous 24-hour delivery, drug levels remain stable throughout the day and night, and patients maintain their mobility. Their bodies function well, and they feel better.
In order to facilitate this delivery of medication, a gastroenterolgist inserts a tube, first into the stomach, and then inserts a second tube through the first, directly into the small bowel. A special pump, like the one produced by DUOPA/Abbvie, Inc., infuses the medicine directly into the patient’s small bowel at a stable and predictable level.
This stable absorption allows the patient’s condition to remain, not only more mobile and active, but also more predictable, which enhances the overall quality of life for patients, caretakers, and loved ones.
Dr. Vasudeva Breaking New Ground at Providence Health
On March 3, 2017, gastroenterologist Dr. Rajeev Vasudeva performed this as-yet rare procedure for the second time here Providence Health. "The first time was in 2016, and the patient showed remarkable results." says Dr. Vasudeva. “Prior to the procedure, the patient was immobile, limited to his bed or wheel chair. After the treatment, he was a new man, out walking around and moving on his own on a regular basis.”
Dr. Vasudeva works closely with Dr. Priyantha Herath, Professor of Neurology at the USC School of Medicine, who treats patients with Parkinson’s disease and identifies the appropriate patients for the procedure. For more information about Dr. Vasudeva, click here.