The signs and symptoms of Parkinson's Disease
Up to 12 million people in the U.S. have some type of movement disorder — Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor, dystonia or others. Because these conditions can have similar symptoms, it’s important for physicians to have the tools to diagnose them properly in order to effectively treat them and improve patients’ quality of life.
A new nuclear imaging technology is helping do just that. Called DaTscan, the test is similar to an MRI and can detect areas in the brain that have undergone changes associated with Parkinson’s.
“The DaTscan detects the amount of dopamine producing neurons in the brain, a loss of which is linked to Parkinson’s disease,” said Angela M. Hardwick, M.D., neurologist. “The results of the scan can be used to help differentiate other diseases that have similar symptoms to Parkinson’s.”
Typically Parkinson’s is diagnosed through a physical exam and neurological history. DaTscan helps confirm or refute a physician’s diagnosis, especially if there is uncertainty or a patient is not responding to medication therapy for Parkinson’s.
“If you have already received a diagnosis and are responding well to therapy, this test likely won’t provide new information,” Dr. Hardwick said. “If symptoms are indicative of more than one movement disorder or if a complex procedure is being considered — like deep brain stimulation — it can be quite helpful.”
About our physician
Angela M. Hardwick, M.D., practices at Norton Neurology Services, Norton Medical Plaza 1 – Brownsboro, Suite 305, 4950 Norton Healthcare Blvd., Louisville, KY 40241; (502) 394-6460