(Medical Xpress) -- Its been five years in the making but health-care workers across the country now have guidelines on how to diagnose and treat patients with Parkinsons disease.
Parkinson Society Canada, as well as Canadas top movement-disorder specialists and neurologists, released the guidelines in mid-June. The Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry at the University of Alberta is home to three of the authors: Wayne Martin, Oksana Suchowersky and Marguerite Wieler.
The 84 recommendations will provide health-care professionals with practical, clinical advice for diagnosis and treatment of Parkinsons, based on published evidence and expert consensus.
We knew that guidelines existed in other countries but we felt that it was important to have Canada-specific guidelines, said Martin, a professor in the Department of Medicine. Neurologists are writing the guidelines but theyre useful for family physicians, physiotherapists, nurses and anyone who deals with patients who have Parkinsons.
We are delighted to launch the Canadian Guidelines on Parkinsons Disease, which we believe will lead to better, more consistent and more accessible care for Canadians with Parkinsons, says Joyce Gordon, president and CEO of Parkinson Society Canada. The guidelines will result in earlier diagnosis, better treatment, increased awareness and better health-care policies for Canadians with Parkinsons.
More than 100,000 Canadians have Parkinsons disease and a lot of those people dont live in the major centres that are home to specialized movement-disorder clinics. This means patients in rural areas are relying on their local family physician and other allied health-care professionals.
There arent enough speciality clinics to meet the needs of everyone who has Parkinsons, said Wieler, research associate and program manager with the Movement Disorders Program at the University of Alberta/Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital. These guidelines allow non-specialists to have a sense of what is the standard of care.
The guidelines will be distributed to family physicians, pharmacists, nurses and allied health professionals, including occupational therapists, physiotherapists and speech-language pathologists.
Theres increasing recognition among the group that is dealing with Parkinsons that they need a lot more than just doctors, said Martin.
Parkinsons disease affects many systems, including movement, mood and cognition. The typical age of onset is mid-50s in most patients, but about 10 per cent of patients show symptoms before the age of 40.
The guidelines will be published in the Canadian Journal of Neurological Sciences and can also be viewed at www.parkinsonclinicalguidelines.ca