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Dr. Brendan Stack is a dentist with a remarkable claim. In a video he posted to the Internet, Stack shows the treatment of a woman with Parkinson's disease whom doctors at the revered Johns Hopkins clinics had not been able to treat.

An American Dentist Claims a Cure for the Dreaded Progressive Neurological Condition

Dr. Stack's patient, whose name is Rose, explains to the audience that she is experiencing freezing when walking. When her medication is not working, she has to have help to walk across the room. She explains she is easily fatigued, that she has slow speech, and that she has a lot of difficulty with fine motor movement in her hands, not able to brush her teeth or wash her hair when her medication is not working. Like many other people with Parkinson's, her handwriting has gotten smaller and smaller, to the point it is illegible and barely recognizable as her own.

The patient also complains of problems that are all too common among people with Parkinson's, such as lower back pain and toes that curl up painfully. She has Parkinson's for 13 years, since she was 47. At first her medications worked well for her, but lately there are days they do not work at all.

Stack proposes to treat his patient with what he calls a neurocranial vertical distractor. It is just a tiny piece of plastic that keeps one jaw slightly higher and slightly further forward than before. It's worn 24 hours a day.

Rose returns six days later and reports that she did not feel as off-balance while walking as before. Her toes still clawed up, but less than before. Constantly constipated for years, she suddenly became regular. She also reports that she has not felt depressed over the last year.

Dr. Stack checks the appliance to correct for any wear over the past six days, and increases its height to take additional pressure off the base of her skull.

Rose returns a week later, after wearing her dental appliance constantly for 13 days. She reports that her constipation has disappeared, she is no longer having weird dreams, she no longer has feverish episodes during the day, and she is not experiencing anxiety or depression. She is still taking her medication, but she has having far fewer symptoms.

The appliance is adjusted again, to take further pressure off the base of the skull, to further relieve symptoms, as you can see for yourself on YouTube.

One of the problems with Parkinson's treatment is that medications almost always eventually fail. The sooner people start taking L-dopa, the sooner it quits working for them. Fluctuating levels of dopamine provided by L-dopa cause "on" and "off" periods in the brain, and the user may freeze in place or feel suddenly excited, with just a few seconds of transition. Especially in younger people with Parkinson's, the medications may cause continuous writhing movements that are extremely difficult to control. And it takes more and more L-dopa to stop symptoms for shorter and shorter periods.

Dr. Stack's method may work by "rewiring" nerve traffic to the brain. Simply relieving pressure at the base of the skull may reduce the sensory input to the brain, requiring less use of neurotransmitters in the brain, helping L-dopa last longer and levels of L-dopa in the brain stay more nearly constant. Many of Dr. Stack's patients attest that the neurocranial vertical distractor is something approaching a miracle cure. There are, however, other treatments that also relieve Parkinson's disease with medications and without surgery.

Simply "staying active," pushing the limits of one's physical abilities without spraining muscles or breaking bones (one's own, or someone else's) slows the pace at which symptoms worsen. It's important to continue to wear lace-up shoes, to continue to play cards, to continue to cut your own meat and to button your own clothes just as long as you possibly can.

But some people who do daily, programmatic exercise report they literally can dance again. Here is a typical program of exercises, done once a day.

Walking and standing exercises. One set of exercises might involving maintaining normal gait, the ability to walk without shuffling or hesitation. Making sure the walking surface is neither hard nor slippery, and with a partner at your side, simply walk in a straight line taking big steps. Remember to land on your heels, not your toes. Then "cool down" by standing on one leg for a full minute, using as much support as needed to keep your balance. Then stand for one minute on the other leg.

For a follow-up exercise, walk heel to toe, in a straight line. Take as long as you need to do the exercises comfortably. Doing walking and standing exercises in good form without injury is more important than getting cardiovascular exercise.

Seated exercises. If you cannot walk without assistance, try "walking" exercises while sitting down. Sit a comfortable chair with space for your legs to dangle in front of you. Then make walking motions with your legs, visualizing yourself actually walking as you do the exercise. The practice standing up from your chair without supporting yourself on the arms of the chair.

Other exercises that can be done from a chair that help maintain coordination and balance are folding the hands in a prayer position with fingers pointed up and then with fingers pointed down, making a "pancake flipping" motion with both hands simultaneously, shrugging the shoulders, and turning the head first to the right and then to the left, as far as comfortable. Or, while securely and comfortably seated, stretch out your legs and try to touch your toes.

Facial and vocal exercises. One of the most distressing consequences of Parkinson's disease is the eventual loss of the ability to make facial expressions to convey emotion. It helps simply to practice smiling, frowning, looking determined, looking surprised, and raising the eyebrows. It's important to continue practicing tongue twisters such as "She sold sea shells by the sea shore" or "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers." It's important to continue practicing active vocabulary by having regular conversation partners and by reading and writing every day.

The one area where exercise can go wrong for people who have Parkinson's is injury, especially head injury. It is common to make small improvements in walking or standing and then to trip or fall during overconfident exercise. The best way to prevent injuries, however, is also exercise, muscle building exercise done with weights or resistance machines. The stronger your muscles, the less severe your injuries.
Continue reading after recommendations

  • Argue, John. Parkinson's Disease & The Art of Moving (New Harbinger Publications, 2000).
  • Zid, David. Delay the Disease—Exercise and Parkinson's Disease (David Zid, 2007).
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