Future of Parkinson’s Disease Treatment is 20 Years Before Diagnosis
First multi-disciplinary Parkinson’s congress in Israel to mark Parkinson's Awareness Month discusses holistic approach to treatment
As part of Parkinson’s Awareness Month, Israel held its first ever multidisciplinary congress on the disease, including doctors, patients, therapists, scientists and family members. The virtual event, which had an audience of approximately 1,000, was hosted by the Israel Parkinson Association in Israel and the Aufzien Family Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease at Tel Aviv University, which teamed up with the Ministry of Health and the Neurological Association of Israel, and other groups.
“This has never happened in Israel and it is something to be proud of,” Professor Nir Giladi, director of the division of Neurology and Neurosurgery at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center – Ichilov Hospital, and co-director of the Aufzien center, told The Media Line.
Giladi says that including different stakeholders is important because it reflects the multidimensional approach with which Parkinson’s is treated.
“Treating Parkinson disease involves a very wide range of aspects and directions, from medication, new brain surgery, dancing and creative activities like painting, singing, sculpting, therapy and physical activity,” he said.
Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological disease that causes tremors and makes it challenging to walk, balance and perform a series of other motor skills. The disease currently has no cure but there are ways to lessen its impact.
The newest finding, Giladi says, is that Parkinson’s disease starts approximately two decades before it is diagnosed.
“There are many signs that don’t meet the threshold for diagnoses: changes in behavior, movement, sleep and thinking,” he said. “This frequently is attributed to age but now we understand that this is the beginning of the disease.”
“Future treatment of Parkinson will aim for this period and to the prevention of the disease,” he added.
The small changes, Giladi says, include loss of smell, erectile disfunction, constipation, anxiety and sleep disturbances like acting out dreams.
The co-director of the Aufzien center says that a likelihood ratio is being developed, which calculates the risk of developing Parkinson’s within the next few years.
“Many of the patients in Israel have genetic Parkinson’s, so their children have the same mutation and they are at risk. We follow thousands of them and, strikingly, we see how people at risk become patients,” Giladi said. “We know before they know that they have the disease because we do special tests.”
He says that other risk factors for the disease include aging, depression, exposure to pesticide, head trauma and sleep deprivation.