How a patient who couldn’t swallow or stand made a dramatic turnaround
Dubai: A 52-year-old patient from the Netherlands, diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease (PD), who could not even swallow food, has made a miraculous recovery in Dubai before returning home.
Said Reiss, who had arrived at an emergency department in a Dubai hospital, recovered — thanks to timely intervention by an expert doctor at the PD clinic. In just 15 days, Reiss was able to resume independent functions before heading back home.
Dr Vinod Metta, the specialist in charge of the PD clinic at King’s College Hospital London in Dubai, recounted the miraculous recovery of the patient. “[Reiss], who has no family history of PD, had been experiencing some slowness and stiffness for the last six years [while in the Netherlands]. These are classic PD symptoms. However, when the doctors put him on Parkinson’s medication, Levodopa, he got worse. Therefore, the medical team concluded that Reiss had a PD mimic condition called Multiple System Atrophy [MSA] and so was not a candidate for the medication,” recounted Dr Metta.
However, Reiss’ condition had worsened in the last one year. His family searched around for PD management and reached out to Dr Metta and the PD clinic through the Dubai Medical Tourism website. Dr Metta said: “We had our first consultation remotely via video conferencing. Reiss finally flew in with his wife in the last week of July, reporting to the emergency as he was aspirating [unable to swallow food], which was going into his lungs.”
Dr Metta then decided to first diagnose the exact condition of the patient – was it PD or a PD mimic condition? – through a series of diagnostic tests. He said: “Upon examination and blood tests, we concluded that patient had classic PD symptoms. The levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine were completely depleted, which happens only in PD and not in MS. The patient had lost his sense of smell and taste many years ago and was also indulging in dream enactment – all classic PD symptoms.”
Once Dr Metta confirmed the diagnosis, he started the patient on his classic Levodopa Infusion therapy. The infusion therapy uses Levodopa, the gold standard treatment of PD in a gel form, instead of oral ingestion. The gel is infused through a small cassette into the body through an external pump at a very precise calibration into the stomach and directly to the small bowel. The gel is then absorbed by the brain. This direct infusion of the gel into the brain helps patients overcome motor and neurological symptoms of PD.
Dr Metta said: “I have patients who were taking about 1,800mg of the medication in oral form. Now, in the gel form, they require only 1mg or 2mg of the medicine, with far more effective impact.” In the case of Reiss, he only required 400mg of the infusion. In that small dose, the patient demonstrated remarkable recovery, said Dr Metta.
“Within a week of the therapy, all major reflexes of the patient were restored. Reiss, who was unable to ingest food, was eating with his wife, he was able to stand up on his own and do many classic motor functions such as lifting his arms, blowing a kiss, which require motor co-ordination and patients of PD are unable to do. What’s more, in a week’s time, Reiss who had come on wheel chair and was unable to stand, was walking on the treadmill,” added Dr Metta.
Once the treatment was carried out and his normal reflexes were restored, the Reiss family flew back to Netherlands. “In a five- page discharge summary, I have sent in all the reports my diagnosis and method of treatment to his doctors in the Netherlands, and they have promised to take over and provide all the help to the patient,” said Dr Metta.
It is a progressively deteriorating neuro-degenerative disease caused by the breaking down of the cells in the nervous system. A patient of PD goes through five progressively deteriorating phases, which begins with slight motor tremors and moves to muscle rigidity, difficulty in walking, to a stage where the patient is confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
Patients also experience slurring of speech, loss of control of the muscles in the jaw leading to drooling, severe constipation and depression. Drugs such as Levodopa are used in the management of PD, which has no known cure.
Reiss, whose daughter Noura is a nurse in the Netherlands and son Khalid is a fitness instructor, expressed his happiness at getting his life back. A delegation from Friends of Parkinson’s UAE, led by its founder Huzaifa Ibrahim and accompanied by Dubai Police officials, felicitated the family for believing in Dubai Medical Tourism and choosing to come here for his treatment.
The King’s College Hospital London in Dubai started its PD clinic and initiated the Levodopa Infusion Therapy.
The therapy has brought relief to many PD patients in Dubai since the clinic opened in 2019. As a follow up to introducing the therapy, the hospital is collaborating with the health authorities on a special project to assess the extent of its benefits.
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