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Ptsd And Parkinson’s Disease

Exercise And Medical Interventions

PTSD & Parkinson’s Disease: Longer Version

Research has demonstrated the benefits of exercise for patients with PD. Not only have exercise programs been shown to improve motor function and reduce the risk of falls, but they also improve overall quality of life and possibly slow the course of the disease.

Fatigue is associated with lower diastolic blood pressureFatigue is a common debilitating symptom in PD. A 2019 study by researchers at the VA Ann Arbor Health Care System and University of Michigan found that symptoms of fatigue in PD patients were associated with small reductions in diastolic blood pressure throughout the day. Diastolic blood pressure measures pressure in the arteries when the heart rests between beats.

The investigators assessed hourly home blood pressures in 35 people with PD. They then asked the study participants to describe any symptoms of fatigue. The patients with fatigue symptoms had lower mean diastolic blood pressure than those without. The differences in pressure were most notable in the morning.

Fatigue is a complex condition. Understanding the mechanisms that underlie PD fatigue can help scientists find new treatment approaches, wrote the researchers. Fatigue experienced by PD patients could be a clinical manifestation of low blood pressure, they say.

Researchers taught an adapted version of the Argentine tango to 20 people with mild to moderate PD. Over three weeks, participants completed 15 dance lessons, each lasting 90 minutes.

Improving Your Chances For Obtaining Benefits

Its particularly important to see a psychologist or psychiatrist who can document the progression of your illness, because this can sometimes be the only official record of your PTSD. If you live with or frequently see family members or friends, ask them to document your behavior over time as well. Since severity is the key to determining whether or not your PTSD disorder qualifies you for benefits, tracking the frequency and nature of your symptoms can help your case.

  • Keep a detailed journal, including a calendar of notes about how you feel each day
  • Record any unusual activities you could not do on any given day
  • Keep a detailed history of your current and past medications, as well as any side effects that you experience
  • See a health care professional regularly and take the medication that he/she gives you so that he/she can support your application for benefits
  • Ask your doctor or other health care professional to track the course of your symptoms and to keep a record of any evidence of fatigue, irritability, forgetfulness, unusual behavior, or other hard-to-document symptoms
  • Keep records of how your illness affected you on the job.

What Is Parkinsons Disease

Parkinsons is defined by Mayo Clinic as a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement. Like most nervous system disorders, Parkinsons disease progresses over time and can get worse quickly. Currently, there is no known cure for Parkinsons. However, medications can help improve symptoms effectively.

Parkinsons occurs when neurons in the brain gradually break down or die. Because neurons are no longer producing the correct amount of dopamine, there is abnormal brain activity which can lead to the symptoms associated with Parkinsons disease.

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Trauma Status And Medical History

TBI and PTSD status was determined for all subjects using a combination of diagnostic screening, self-report and medical record review. TBI status was assessed using self-report and then confirmed via manual medical record review of relevant clinical notes and ICD-10 codes. PTSD status was assessed via the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Checklist DSM-5 . This survey is 20 questions, each a 0 to 4 Likert scale , and is subdivided into four clusters: B-Intrusion 15, C-Avoidance 67, D-Mood/Cognition 814, and E-Arousal 1520. PTSD was determined by a PCL-5 score 33 and positive cluster criteria , as is standard .

Additional medical history was extracted via medical record review, including current ICD-10 coded diagnoses for cognitive impairment, lung disease, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and Parkinsons disease. The presence of sleep apnea was determined using data from the overnight polysomnography.

Association Between Neuropsychiatric Trauma And Rbd

Cognitive Decline in Parkinson Disease Linked With ...

PTSD has been suggested to be positively associated with RBD , as well as with general REM sleep disturbances , including motor dysfunction . Interestingly, the neuropathology underpinning PTSD shares common features with RBD, raising the question as to whether PTSD has a causal role in the development of RBD, or, if a single pathophysiologic process generates two clinical entities. Following an inciting traumatic event, PTSD manifests neurologically via increased norepinephrine turnover, eventual norepinephrine depletion in the locus coeruleus, and progressive locus coeruleus neuronal death . Indeed, neuroimaging studies have shown that PTSD patients have 50% fewer locus coeruleus and peri-locus coeruleus neurons compared with non-PTSD controls . This reduction in locus coeruleus neuronal activity contributes to disinhibition of the pedunculopontine nucleus, which not only produces PTSD-related symptoms but may also be the same neuropathologic process demonstrated in patients with RBD and in patients with Parkinsons disease and dementia with Lewy body diease .

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Family History & Genetics

Researchers have been able to identify certain genetic mutations that can increase the risk of developing Parkinsons disease.

These are the two types of Parkinsons disease, from a genetic standpoint:

  • Hereditary Parkinsons disease: Roughly 15% of all cases of Parkinsons disease are inherited. In these cases, mutations in certain genes are passed down through families and increase the individuals risk of developing this condition.
  • Sporadic Parkinsons disease: On the other hand, cases in which people dont have a family history of Parkinsons disease are referred to as sporadic cases. These cases are in fact the majority. Scientists have found that alterations in certain genes may also play a role in sporadic cases, in addition to other environmental and lifestyle-related factors.

However, the role that these genetic mutations play in the development of the condition hasnt been fully understood yet.

Va Benefits For Parkinsons

Veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange while in service are entitled to disability compensation for their disabilities. To be eligible, a Veteran must have served in Vietnam, the Korean demilitarized zone, or another area where Agent Orange was sprayed.

Veterans can receive a minimum VA rating of 30% for Parkinsons. However, Veterans are often entitled to a rating higher than 30%. If you would like to appeal your VA rating for Parkinsons disease, contact Berry Law. Our team has helped thousands of Veterans successfully appeal their rating decision.

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Findings May Provide Insight About Development Of Neurodegenerative Conditions Like Parkinson’s Disease

Oregon Health & Science University
Military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder or concussion suffer from a thrashing form of sleep behavior at a rate that is far higher than the general population, according to a new study. Researchers next want to probe whether the sleep disorder might provide an early signal of the development of neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s disease.

Military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder or concussion suffer from a thrashing form of sleep behavior at a rate that is far higher than the general population, according to a new study by researchers at the VA Portland Health Care System and Oregon Health & Science University. The finding was published online this week in the journal SLEEP.

Researchers next want to probe whether the disorder, known as REM sleep behavior disorder, or RBD, might provide an early signal of the development of neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s disease.

Normally during sleep that coincides with rapid eye movement, or REM sleep, muscles are effectively paralyzed. In cases of RBD, brain control of muscle paralysis is impaired, resulting in people acting out dreams during REM sleep, sometimes causing injuries to themselves or their partners. It is estimated to effect less than 1% of the general population.

That proportion rose to 9% of the 394 veterans in this study, and further swelled to 21% among those with PTSD.

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What Is Parkinson’s Disease

PTSD & Parkinson’s Disease: Motor Similarities

Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative disease in which your brain cells that produce dopamine start to die, which causes you to gradually lose muscle control. No matter your age, Parkinsons can seem like a scary thing, but thankfully, with the right care, the symptoms of Parkinsons can be manageable.

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Va Disability For Parkinsons Disease

Berry LawAgent Orange

Parkinsons disease is a very serious progressive brain disorder, meaning it gradually gets worse over time. According to Mayo Clinic, a nonprofit medical center, typical symptoms associated with the disease include tremors, slowed movement, rigid muscles, balance problems, loss of automatic movements, speech changes, and writing changes.

Anybody who has been diagnosed with Parkinsons is dealing with a serious disorder that can drastically change your life. However, Veterans may be able to receive VA disability for Parkinsons disease if they can prove it was caused by military service.

Anxiety And Parkinsons Research

What does this finding mean for the future of diagnosis or treatment of Parkinsons? Ongoing research is compelling, says Pontone. Part of what we are doing is looking at anxiety disorders that occur long before the onset of Parkinsons to see if there are characteristics that may differentiate that anxiety or predict an increased risk of Parkinsons disease.

Meanwhile, because theres an established link between anxiety and Parkinsons disease, patients and their families should be upfront with their doctors about anxiety symptoms. Behavioral therapy and medications for example, anti-anxiety meds or antidepressants can effectively treat anxiety disorders. Theres no need for anyone to suffer in silence.

Targeting Parkinsons-Linked Protein Could Neutralize 2 of the Diseases Causes

Researchers report they have discovered how two problem proteins known to cause Parkinsons disease are chemically linked, suggesting that someday, both could be neutralized by a single drug designed to target the link.

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Mood And Anxiety Disorders

Multiple mood/anxiety disorders were increased before PD diagnosis at early timepoints and with high baseline prevalence . Bipolar disorder showed onset at -40 years, measured increase at -19 years, peak prevalence of 5.5% in PD and 2.4% in controls, and peak OR of 2.7 CI. Anxiety disorder and depression onset times were -22.6 and -17.6 years, measurable increases in PD started at -15 years, peak prevalence was 23.0% and 29.4% in PD and 13.0% and 23.0% in controls, and peak ORs were 1.44 CI and 1.52 CI respectively.

The Links Between Ptsd Tbi And Parkinsons Are Growing

What Causes Anxiety in Parkinson

Veterans are disproportionately affected by PTSD and TBI, both of which have been found to cause a greater risk of developing RBD. Because recent research has shown a link between RBD and the development of Parkinsons Disease, Veterans should consider reevaluating their current medical condition with their doctor. Although there may be no current signs of Parkinsons, research relating to PTSD/TBI as a trigger for RBD has raised new questions about whether veterans are at greater risk of the disease. To maximize benefits that may be available to you and to ensure you receive them while you are still able, Veterans are encouraged to submit a disability claim as soon as possible.

A behind-the-scenes look at who works for you at Woods and Woods, The Veterans Firm.

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Helping As A Caretaker Or Ally

Whether you are a neighbor, friend, family member, or caregiver to someone with PD and depression, know that it’s normal to feel powerless and overwhelmed by their condition and your relationship.

Even though you cannot “fix” what is going on, there is a lot you can do to provide comfort and support. Among them:

  • Organize a simple outing to get coffee or see a movie.
  • Prepare a home-cooked meal or bring over their favorite snack or flower to show you are thinking of them.
  • Assist with household tasks .
  • Offer to drive them to therapy or doctor appointments.
  • Attend a support group meeting with them.

Parkinsons And Agent Orange

Parkinsons disease is unfortunately a very common disability among Veterans. The VA estimates that 110,000 Veterans currently have Parkinsons disease. A large number of these are Vietnam Veterans, largely due to their exposure to Agent Orange. Many Veterans are undercompensated for their Parkinsons because of the complicated manner the VA uses to evaluate it.

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What Are Counted As Resources

Lets start by whats NOT counted. The following items are NOT counted when SSA computes your resources:

  • Any back benefits you will receive as a result of your favorable decision
  • The home you live in and the land it is on, if its your primary residence
  • Your household goods and personal effects
  • One vehicle, regardless of its value, if it is used as transportation
  • Grants, scholarships, fellowships, or gifts set aside to pay educational expenses, for a limited period of time after receipt
  • Burial spaces and burial funds, up to a certain limit
  • Life insurance policies, up to a certain limit
  • Property thats essential to supporting yourself


There are additional items that are NOT counted these are the most common.

What does material component mean?

It means that if you stopped using drugs or alcohol for three months or more and you were therefore no longer disabled, its a material component of your disability. On the other hand, if you stopped using drugs or alcohol for a period of three months or more, and you were still disabled due to other impairments, drug or alcohol is not a material component.

If you are actively using drugs or alcohol and your only impairment is mental, you are likely to have difficulty being approved for benefits.

What impact will drug or alcohol use have on my application for Social Security Disability?

If drug or alcohol addiction is found to be a material component of your disability, you cannot receive benefits.

Parkinsons Disease From Agent Orange Exposure

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Berry LawVeterans Disability

Veterans who served in Vietnam, Korea, or Thailand may have been exposed to Agent Orange. Agent Orange is a chemical defoliant that the US military used during the Vietnam War to remove foliage that provided cover for the enemy. The negative side effects of Agent Orange exposure are widely publicized, and many Veterans who were subject to Agent Orange are dealing with consequences today.

In fact, the disabilities Veterans are dealing with today due to Agent Orange exposure are so prominent that the Department of Veterans Affairs created a list of illnesses they presumed to be caused by the herbicide. One of those illnesses is Parkinsons disease.

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New Ongoing And Published Research

In 2001, VA created six specialized centers to provide Veterans state-of-the-art clinical care, education, research, and advocacy for Parkinson’s disease.

Known as the Parkinson’s Disease Research, Education, and Clinical Centers , they are located in Philadelphia, Richmond, Virginia, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and the Seattle/Portland area. The centers also provide comprehensive diagnosis and treatment services for other movement disorders, including essential tremor, restless leg syndrome, dystonia, Lewy body disease, progressive supranuclear palsy, multiple system atrophy, and corticobasal degeneration.

Researchers at these sites are studying the biochemical pathways involving dopamine and testing a variety of treatment approaches for PD, including medication, surgery, and electrical stimulation. Biomedical and clinical studies on PD are ongoing at many other VA sites as well.

If you are interested in learning about joining a VA-sponsored clinical trial, visit our research study .

How Does Depression Work

Depression is more than simply feeling sad. It’s a common condition that interferes with how you function in your everyday life, whether at home or work.

Why depression occurs in some people and not others remains unclear, although it’s likely that some combination of your DNA and environmental factor play a role.

One interesting theory relating to the development of depression in PD revolves around stress and the neurotransmitter dopamine.

We know that psychological stress activates your hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and that depression is associated with HPA-axis hyperactivity.

Activation of the HPA axis triggers the release of cortisol, which leads to all sorts of inflammatory and hormone changes in your body, including the possible lowering of dopamine production in your brain.

Since PD is also characterized by the loss of dopamine in the brain, experts believe that low dopamine levels from early life stress may make a person more vulnerable not only to depression but also eventually to PD. Even more, depression may be a risk factor for developing PD later on in life.

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Parkinsons Disease And Stress

Stress may play a role in the development of PD. The principle risk factor for PD is aging, which may also be associated with elevated levels of cortisol . Cortisol is also elevated in PD patients compared to healthy age-matched controls . Acute treatment with levodopa can reduce plasma cortisol levels in PD patients , suggesting a connection between dopamine hypofunction and HPA axis hyperactivity. Stressful life events may also precipitate the development of PD. For example, prisoners of war had a much higher incident rate of PD development thirty-five years after release . Emotional stress can transiently increase motor symptoms , consistent with acute effects on nigrostriatal function. Appearance of the clinical PD symptoms during a stressful period may reflect damage to the nigrostriatal system that had been masked during the preclinical stage . Loss of mesocortical dopamine neurons, which occurs in more advanced stages of PD, may result in the system becoming more vulnerable to stress, as dopamine release in the cortex inhibits stress-activated neurons in the nucleus accumbens . Individuals with PD also have reduced hedonic responses after exposure to emotional stress, but stress did not affect the selected motor symptoms studied .

How Can Identifying Rbd In Veterans Help With The Potential Of Developing Parkinsons

19. Parkinson

Symptoms of Parkinsons Disease, such as fatigue and tremors, can be helped with certain therapies. However, there is no known prevention or cure for Parkinsons to date. Most people with Parkinsons are diagnosed long after it might be possible to reverse symptoms or participate in clinical trials for new therapies. Thats why identifying patients with RBD is critical and could be an opportunity to gauge the possibility of developing Parkinsons Disease. With early intervention, it may also be possible to test promising interventions to prevent some Parkinsons symptoms.

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