The Difference Between Parkinson's Disease and Lewy Body Dementia

One of the most confusing concepts to explain in the clinic is the difference between Parkinson's Disease, Parkinson's Disease Dementia and Lewy Body Dementia. Ultimately people with Parkinson's (PwP) can look very similar with motor (e.g. slowness, stiffness) and non-motor (e.g. memory and hallucinations) problems. This is particularly tricky when PwP first present but the easiest way to consider Lewy Body Dementia is like having a very aggressive progression of Parkinson's where patients are dementing in the first year of their condition whereas this process is much slower when patients develop Parkinson's Disease Dementia. Indeed, clinically Lewy Body Dementia patients look like they have a cross between Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, which is actually close to what is seen down the microscope when researchers study the brain. Understanding the differences between Parkinson's Disease and Lewy Body Dementia is not only difficult for patients and their families but has led some professional groups to try and lump all of these patients together under one umbrella, which probably does little to help individual families appreciate what the future holds.

Hopefully this video will help you to gain a more complete understanding of the differences between Parkinson's Disease, Parkinson's Disease Dementia and Lewy Body Dementia.

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Simon JG Lewis is Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at University of Sydney. He is on the Program Committee for the 5th World Parkinson Congress and spoke at the 4th World Parkinson Congress. 

Ideas and opinions expressed in this post reflect that of the author(s) solely. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of the World Parkinson CoalitionĀ®