Five Questions With:
Dr. Joseph H. Friedman

Dr. Joseph H. Friedman, chief of the Movement Disorders Program at Butler Hospital, has written a series of self-help articles for patients with Parkinson’s disease. The articles, which are accessible online, provide a source of comfort, education and advice for patients and their caregivers.

Friedman, a neurologist, is known as an expert in his field. He is also a professor and chief of the Division of Movement Disorders in the Department of Neurology at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

His articles address a number of issues that Parkinson’s patients face as the disease progresses, and, he says, are meant to provide encouragement and support, as well as information.

“Living with a movement disorder, such as Parkinson’s disease, can be a trying experience for anyone. I’m hoping my articles will shed light on some common misperceptions about Parkinson’s disease and show patients that with the right treatment and care, this illness can be properly managed,” Friedman said. “My articles will focus on topics including dementia in Parkinson’s disease, staging Parkinson’s disease, misperceptions and tremors.”

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PBN: Are your articles intended for patients and caregivers, or are they meant as guidance for doctors?

FRIEDMAN: These articles are all intended for patients and their families.

PBN: What sorts of symptoms and conditions do they address?

FRIEDMAN: They address more-general symptoms and conditions, as Parkinson’s disease involves a lot of different problems, only some of which may affect any particular patient. Too often patients may think Parkinson’s only causes tremors and not be aware that it may cause slowness, stiffness, imbalance, speech problems and stooped posture.

PBN: How important is education, support and understanding for people who have been diagnosed with a movement disorder?

FRIEDMAN: Understand your enemy! Understanding and combating it are the cornerstones of treatment.

PBN: Can movement disorders have an impact on a patient’s mental health?

FRIEDMAN: Parkinson’s and other movement disorders may have a direct impact on mood, memory and thinking ability, but also simply having an incurable disorder is disheartening and may itself cause anxiety and depression.

PBN: Did you learn anything that surprised you during your research for these articles?

FRIEDMAN: I’ve been treating Parkinson’s patients for close to 40 years. These articles were based on what I have learned about my patients, largely from them.

Elizabeth Graham is a PBN staff writer. She can be reached at Graham@pbn.com.

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