Have you just been told about Parkinson’s Plus Syndrome by a doctor or health professional? Perhaps a loved one of yours has recently been diagnosed, and you are seeking more information on what it is and the symptoms that are common with the condition.
You’ve come to the right place. Here at SpeechEase Speech Therapy, we support adults with Parkinson’s Plus Syndrome to retain their communication and swallowing abilities so that they can continue to experience a good quality of life as their condition progresses. We’ve also been trained in evidence-based interventions that are suitable for adults with Parkinson’s Plus Syndrome.
Are you ready to begin? Let’s start by looking at what Parkinson’s Plus Syndrome is and how it differs from Parkinson’s disease.
What is Parkinson’s Plus Syndrome?
Parkinson’s Plus Syndrome is the name given to a group of neurodegenerative disorders that share similarities with Parkinson’s disease. It is also known as atypical parkinsonism. What sets this syndrome apart from typical Parkinson’s disease is that it is associated with additional symptoms and a faster disease progression. While the exact cause of Parkinson’s Plus Syndrome are unclear, genetic and environmental factors are believed to play a role.
Subtypes of Parkinson’s Plus Syndrome
Due to the wide variety of additional symptoms that can occur with Parkinson’s Plus Syndrome, it has been divided into several subtypes to assist with determining the best course of treatment and ongoing therapy support.
Some of the most well-known subtypes of Parkinson’s Plus include:
- Multiple System Atrophy (MSA): MSA is characterized by autonomic dysfunction, cerebellar ataxia, and parkinsonism. It is further divided into two subtypes: MSA-P, which primarily presents with parkinsonian features, and MSA-C, which primarily affects the cerebellum.
- Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP): PSP is characterized by problems with balance and coordination, eye movement abnormalities, cognitive decline, and changes in behaviour. It is often referred to as “Steele-Richardson-Olszewski syndrome.”
- Corticobasal Degeneration (CBD): CBD affects both movement and cognitive function. Patients may experience asymmetric limb rigidity, dystonia, myoclonus, and apraxia. Cognitive impairments such as aphasia and visuospatial difficulties are also common.
- Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB): DLB is characterized by cognitive decline, visual hallucinations, and fluctuations in alertness and attention. Parkinsonian motor symptoms, including bradykinesia and rigidity, are also observed.
Symptoms of Parkinson’s Plus Syndrome
While Parkinson’s Plus Syndrome subtypes have unique symptom profiles, they share some common features. These symptoms often go beyond the classic motor symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease. Key symptoms include:
- Parkinsonian motor symptoms: These include bradykinesia (slowness of movement), rigidity, resting tremors, and postural instability.
- Autonomic dysfunction: Many patients experience orthostatic hypotension (low blood pressure upon standing), urinary dysfunction, constipation, and sexual dysfunction.
- Cerebellar ataxia: Lack of coordination, unsteady gait, and balance problems are often present in Parkinson’s Plus Syndrome, particularly in MSA and some CBD cases.
- Cognitive decline: Memory loss, executive dysfunction, and language impairments can occur, especially in PSP and DLB.
Managing Symptoms and Progression of Parkinson’s Plus Syndrome
Managing Parkinson’s Plus Syndrome involves a multidisciplinary approach, focusing on symptom management and ensuring the person experiences a good quality of life. Although there is currently no cure for Parkinson’s Plus Syndrome, several strategies can help alleviate symptoms and slow down the disease progression:
- Physical and occupational therapy: These therapies aim to improve mobility, balance, and daily living activities. They can also provide guidance on adapting the environment to reduce fall risks.
- Supportive care: Psychological support, support groups, and caregiver education can be invaluable in managing the emotional and social impact of the disease.
How Speech Pathologists Support People with Parkinson’s Plus
Speech Pathologists are one of the many health professionals that can support people diagnosed with Parkinson’s Plus and other atypical Parkinson’s conditions. We have Speech Pathology clinics in Townsville, Mackay, and Brisbane with clinicians who can support you in retaining your swallowing function, preventing aspiration pneumonia and supporting speech clarity as the condition progresses.
There are many different Speech Therapy approaches that can be beneficial for people with Parkinson’s Plus. At SpeechEase, we support clients with Parkinson’s Plus with a personalised approach. Each person is different and our role is to find supports such as Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) systems to support communication needs and communication partner training.
Visit our Speech Therapy for Adults page or register for our services today to get the support you need for Parkinson’s Plus Syndrome.