Parkinson’s is a movement disorder. Thus the gait is impaired. Falls are a common and serious complication in Parkinson’s. 70% of sufferers will fall at least once per year. Over 30% will fall repeatedly. Falls can lead to minor inquires, broken bones and life threatening situations.
Researchers from the University of Bristol recently published a study in The Lancet, which included 130 Parkinson patients. Over a period of 8 month one group received a common dementia drug called rivastigmine. The other group only a placebo.
Parkinson patients receiving rivastigmine were 45% less likely to fall compared to the placebo group. Moreover waking and balance was improved.
“We already know that rivastigmine works to treat dementia by preventing the breakdown of the chemical acetylcholine. Our study shows for the first time that it can also improve walking and balance.” Dr Emily Henderson, Parkinson’s UK Research Fellow
Dr Emily Henderson explains:
“With the degeneration of dopamine producing nerve cells, people with Parkinson’s often have issues with unsteadiness when walking.
“As part of the condition, they also have lower levels of the chemical acetylcholine, which helps us to concentrate. This makes it extremely difficult to balance and walk at the same time.
“This is a real breakthrough in reducing the risk of falls for people with Parkinson’s.”