Parkinson’s: Hospital Care Can Be Tricky


HACKENSACK, N.J. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Parkinson’s disease is a movement disorder that is often treated with medication, but the doses have to be taken at very precise times to work. But what happens when Parkinson’s patients go to the hospital for an unrelated medical emergency?

Puzzles are one of sixty-five-year-old Michael Jacobs’ favorite hobbies.

“I also need to try and keep my brain stimulated,” Jacobs told Ivanhoe.

Jacobs keeps his body fit by participating in 5Ks. Exercise is one part of managing Parkinson’s disease. The other is medication.

“I have been on three or four Parkinson’s meds before the one I have now, because they weren’t working,” detailed Jacobs.

Movement disorders specialist Hooman Azmi, MD, at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey said a patient’s biggest challenge may be in, of all places, hospitals. Research shows three out of four Parkinson’s patients don’t get their medication on time.

(Read Full Interview)

“TParkingson’s: hospitalhere’s plenty of evidence that shows when patients with Parkinson’s miss their medications, even 30 minutes, even 15 minutes, it can result in major problems for them,” explained Dr. Azmi.

Five years ago, Jacobs went to the ER with stroke symptoms and warned staff about his Parkinson’s.

Jacobs said, “It was like, so you have Parkinson’s. You’re here because you think you’re having a stroke.”

Now Jacobs carries this. It’s called an Aware in Care kit. It lists the exact time and specific medication he needs. Dr. Azmi helped initiate changes in protocol for treating Parkinson’s at Hackensack University Medical Center. There’s a focus on patients adhering to their personal medication schedule, not the hospital’s med times. And no substitutions.

“Once you get your meds right, you function,” said Jacobs.

As a result of the changes initiated at Hackensack University Medical Center, it’s the first hospital system in the country with a special certification for the care of Parkinson’s patients. For more information about Parkinson’s and the Aware in Care kits, visit the Parkinson’s Foundation website at

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising and Field Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; Kirk Manson, Videographer.

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REPORT:       MB #4724

BACKGROUND: Parkinson’s usually begins between the ages of 50 and 65, and hits about 1 percent of that population. It is found to be more common in men than in women. The most common treatment for symptoms to assist in decreasing the disability is with medication. The symptoms are the result of the gradual degeneration of nerve cells in the portion of the midbrain that controls body movements. First signs of the disease are barely noticeable and can include a feeling of weakness or stiffness in one limb, or a fine trembling of one hand when resting. Eventually, the shaking, also known as tremor, worsens and spreads, muscles become stiffer, movements slow down, and balance and coordination deteriorate. Progression of the disease can cause depression, cognitive issues, and other mental or emotional problems.


HOSPITALIZATION AND PARKINSON’S:  Keeping a list of current medications on you which include the exact doses and times at which you take each medication is important when being hospitalized. It’s a good idea to call your movement disorder specialist or primary care physician and have them speak with the hospital staff. This way, they can provide additional information so that the likelihood of medication or treatment errors can be minimized. It is also extremely important to make sure the medical staff is aware that medication dosages and timings need to be exact. There is a common policy of allowing a 1 to 2 hour time window for medication administration which can cause complications for Parkinson’s patients. Finally, it’s important to get out of bed, if allowed, to do some activities such as walking, stretching or light seated exercises. Ask for any kind of physical therapy that they might offer at the hospital so you can stay active and keep from getting stiff and uncomfortable.


HOPE THROUGH RESEARCH: The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) has been a pioneer in the study and development of deep brain stimulation (DBS), which is now considered a standard treatment option for Parkinson’s patients whose symptoms no longer respond to medications. The research continues to fine-tune the optimal site within the brain to implant the DBS electrode in hopes of helping even more people with Parkinson’s regain function. A two-part study funded by the NINDS and the Department of Veterans Affairs first compared bilateral DBS to best medical therapy, including medication adjustment and physical therapy. Bilateral DBS showed overall superiority to best medical therapy at improving motor symptoms and quality of life. The second part of the study compared subthalamic nucleus (STN) DBS to globus pallidus interna (GPI) DBS. The two groups reported similar improvements in motor control and quality of life in scores.



Mara Quigley, Account Executive


If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at

Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Hooman Azmi, MD, FAANS, Division Director for Functional and Restorative Neurosurgery

Read the entire Q&A