NICE has issued a new quality standard for the management of Parkinson’s disease in adults.

The new quality standard states that adults with Parkinson’s disease taking dopaminergic therapy, a common treatment for Parkinson’s disease, should be given information when starting treatment, and then at least annually, about the risk of impulse control disorders. This is because dopaminergic therapy is associated with a risk of developing impulse control disorders (for example, compulsive gambling hypersexuality, binge eating and obsessive shopping).

Discussing this risk and providing information to adults with Parkinson’s disease, and their family members and carers will help them to recognise the symptoms and know where to get help if these develop.

The quality standard also says that adults with Parkinson’s disease should be referred to physiotherapy if they have problems with movement or balance. They should be referred to an occupational therapist if they have difficulties with everyday activities such as dressing, cooking and working, and to a speech and language therapist if they have speech problems or problems with swallowing or drooling.

Parkinson’s disease is an incurable neurodegenerative brain disorder that progresses slowly in most people. It affects movement, muscle control and balance. It can also cause depression, cognitive impairment and dementia. The disease happens when the brain slowly stops producing a chemical neurotransmitter called dopamine. Dopamine relays messages to the parts of the brain that control movement. With less and less dopamine, a person has less and less ability to regulate their movements, body and emotions.

Parkinson’s disease is one of the most common neurological conditions, affecting an estimated 130,000 people in the UK. It mainly affects people aged 50 or over.

NICE quality standards set out the priority areas for quality improvement in health and social care. They cover areas where there is variation in care. Each standard provides a set of statements to help the service improve quality as well as information on how to measure progress.

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