Mind, Mood and Parkinson’s: Headway Conference

Last month I attended Headway’s annual conference on cognitive aspects of Parkinson’s disease.




The event was wonderfully organized and had a great lineup of speakers!

The event started with watching Jillian Carson‘s video submission on her experience with Parkinson’s that won the people’s choice award at WPC 2013 in Montreal. You can watch her video HERE


Dr. Gheis did a great job of discussing depression and anxiety in PD. He highlighted how common those are experienced and differentiated their symptoms from those of PD.


I was honoured to lead a guided meditation/relaxation after lunch. We had a packed room; it is always nice to meditate in a group and share that supportive energy with each other. I hope everyone enjoyed their experience and will be able to integrate some mindful time into their daily schedules.


THANK YOU to Moksana Yoga for lending us the props, so our participants could get extra comfy and really relax.


Dr. Henri-Bhargava and Dr. Sira finished off the day by discussing cognitive aspects of PD and how we can manage those. Headway plans to post videos of the speakers presentation on their website/in their library.

Thanks again for including me in this day and bringing attention to the oh-so-important “non-motor” aspects of Parkinson’s. much love.

A common dementia gene?

A variant gene thought to play a role in Alzheimer’s disease, the ε4 allele of the gene for apolipoprotein E, may be associated with other forms of dementia (Zabetian et al, Archives of Neurology, 2012).
In this study, the researchers defined four types of dementia – Alzheimer’s without Lewy body neuropathologic changes, Lewy body disease with Alzheimer’s features, pure Lewy body disease (with low or no Alzheimer’s features), and Parkinson’s dementia (also with low or no Alzheimer’s features).
The variant – the ε4 allele of the gene for apolipoprotein E (APOE) – was elevated in both Parkinson’s and Lewy body dementia. This suggests that APOEε4 can play other roles (i.e., other than amyloid degeneration in AD) in neurodegeneration.
So, does this imply a commonality? Interesting thoughts! much love.

recognizing dementia

classic clinical signs of parkinson’s disease (PD) include:

1) resting tremor

2) rigidity (or stiffness)

3) postural instability (balance troubles)

and 4) bradykinesia (slowed movements, like rising from a chair)

However, nonmotor (i.e. pain, sleep difficulties) and psychological (i.e. apathy, depression, hallucinations) symptoms can also occur.

Dementia can also develop in PD. Epidemiology shows PD associated dementia (PDD) can occur in up to 80% of persons with PD, and is considered part of a spectrum of dementia diseases, that includes Alzheimer’s disease and Lewy Body diseases:

(Water, 2011)

What distinguishes PDD from other forms of dementia is that it develops at least 1-2 years after classic parkinsonian motor signs are evident. If the opposite it true (i.e. dementia signs first, then motor signs), it is recognized as dementia with Lewy Bodies.

PDD is mainly attributed to an accumulation of a protein, Lewy Body, in the brain.

There is overlap in both pathology and symptoms in the many forms of dementia, and this can make diagnosis difficult!

In PDD, people usually have major problems with attention, executive functioning (i.e. how to sequence actions and perform tasks), and memory retrieval (i.e. recalling information from your long-term memory). Whereas in Alzheimer’s disease, the memory problem is more often storing memories.

More and more research is being done to understand this tangled web of dementia pathologies and symptoms, especially to help with accurate diagnosis… but what are the implications for the PD caregiver? much love.