Parkinson’s is not the same as parkinsonism, clarifies Dr. Viñuela

Dr. Ángel Viñuela clarifies what Parkinson’s is and what its symptoms are, which are initially confused with other diseases.

Dr. Ángel Viñuela, neurologist specializing in Parkinson’s. Photo: Archive of the Journal of Medicine and Public Health. Fabiola Plaza.

“We are not yet at the point of being able to offer specific treatments for specific patients, but the general treatment depends a lot on the symptoms that each person has”, clarifies the Doctor Angel Viñuela, Parkinson’s neurologistwho also points out that “apart from the treatments, there is also a large line of surgical treatments, fundamentally deep brain stimulation, a treatment that is not new, but has been around for many years -since the 1980s, when it was developed-, but it has come a long way in being able to improve patients’ symptoms.”

Dr. Viñuela also points out that there are several therapies under investigation, starting with fetal cells and taking the path towards stem cells, a field that is not yet ready for clinical application, so care must be taken, since there are many people announcing this very hastily and it’s not ready yet.

The truth is that all fields are advancing rapidly, opening the way to hope for many Parkinson’s patients and doctors who want to offer the best alternative to their patients. Regarding genetic specificity, Dr. Viñuela maintains that genes are very important in defining what type of disease a person may have, but not all genes have the same effect in different people and race makes the meaning of each vary slightly. gene

For this reason, in Puerto Rico, according to the specialist, “right now a program is being worked on to identify the genes that are affected in Hispanic Parkinson’s patients who, although they are not a race, are a mixture of a particular race, different from other races found in the United States and Europe and most of the genes that have been described with Parkinson’s are from the European race and the United States, “but now we are studying which genes are altered in our population.”

Parkinsonism is not the same as Parkinson’s disease

“When you study the pathology of brains, you see that what you expect clinically doesn’t always correlate with what you see in the brain. Now what is being done is giving general names, such as Parkinson’s, to patients who have symptoms that are similar, but the diseases are actually a little different,” says the doctor.

In general, the person only thinks of Parkinson’s when he sees that the patient is trembling or is very slow, and does not consider the rest. This is because the initial symptoms of the disease can be shoulder pain, a feeling of stiffness in the limb, depression, moving around a lot and falling out of bed, loss of smell, and in the general population, these symptoms they are not associated with Parkinson’s, points out Dr. Viñuela.

In the case of boxer Manny Pacquiao, for example, it is usually considered that receiving blows to the head develops Parkinson’s disease, but these are symptoms of the disease: “by having many traumas in the brain, these affect different regions, there are people who develop it is a memory problem or movement symptoms that resemble Parkinson’s, but this is called parkinsonism, that is, it has symptoms of the Parkinson’s family; it can be reached by traumas, by multiple infarcts in the brain, by medications or by a neurodegenerative disease that accumulates proteins in the brain”, says the expert Viñuela.

In Puerto Rico, there are people who are very sedentary and socialize little, which makes Parkinson’s disease progress more quickly, something that happened in the pandemic.

The expert highlights the need for socialization: “It is essential, especially for older people, that they leave the house, they need to go out, visit neighbors or relatives, since, otherwise, they will have more depression and memory problems” .