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Behavioral Aspects of Parkinson's Disease

The 2009 Gorell Memorial Lecture, "Behavioral Aspects of Parkinson's Disease," was presented by Dr. Joseph Friedman of Brown University, Rhode Island. Dr. Friedman is a practicing clinical neurologist, a clinical professor, a scientist and the author of "Brain and Behavior." The fourth annual Gorell Lecture was held at the Farmington Hills Library and was simultaneously webcast to nine different locations in Michigan: Adrian, Alpena, Battle Creek, Bay City, Gaylord, Gladwin, Lansing, Scottville and St. Joseph. Ms. Robyn Gorell, a member of the Michigan Parkinson Foundation Board of Directors, welcomed Dr. Friedman in honor of her late husband and thanked the audience for attending.

Dr. Friedman outlined the important non-motor symptoms of Parkinson's Disease that are often overlooked or considered less important than the familiar cardinal motor symptoms. The classic motor symptoms of tremor, rigidity and slowness of movement usually receive the primary attention and focus of medical management. Friedman emphasized that, very often, the non-motor symptoms of anxiety, depression, hallucinations, apathy, cognitive slowing and memory difficulties are more problematic and directly affect "quality of life" issues. Dr. Friedman highlighted a number of somatic complaints of PD patients that require medical attention, such as frequent sweating, chronic pain, rhinorrhea (runny nose), poor taste or smell and frequent stomach ailments. Further, he defined a number of behavioral disorders common to PD patients, including anxiety episodes, crippling depression, easily triggered anger, tendency for compulsivity (gambling, repetitive activities, hypersexuality) and increasing cognitive loss consistent with dementia. He identified these non-motor disorders as either iatrogenic, caused by the use of PD medications, hallucinations, psychotic episodes, sleep disorders and obsessive compulsive behaviors; or intrinsic to dopamine loss in PD, as in persistent depression, apathy, dementia, fatigue and akathisia.

Immediately following Dr. Friedman's lecture, a panel of four physicians from the Michigan Parkinson Foundation's Professional Advisory Board, moderated by Dr. Kelvin Chou, directed questions to Dr. Friedman and answered others from members of the audience and participants from the webcast audience. More than 200 patients, spouses, caregivers and rehabilitation professionals attended or observed via webcast this highly successful event.

DVDs will be available for viewing through Michigan Parkinson Foundation support groups, or by contacting the MPF office.

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