Palliative Care Helps Parkinson's Patients

By Scott LaFee

April 22, 2020 5 min read

A small study has found that adding palliative care — treatment focused on providing relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness — to standard care can help raise patients' quality of life.

In a 210-person trial, half of patients with Parkinson's disease, a progressive neuromuscular disorder, received their standard medical care but were also treated by a team that included a social worker, nurse, chaplain and palliative care specialist. All of them visited patients at home or via telemedicine to discuss symptoms and difficult emotions, and offer support to caregivers.

This group subsequently showed more improvement in quality of life scores, as did their caregivers in similar surveys. Researchers suggested future studies will examine how different kinds of palliative care compare.

Get Me That, Stat!

New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in 2018, 1 in 7 (14%) persons surveyed said they had trouble paying medical bills. That's actually an improvement, the first dip since 2011 when nearly 20% of people had trouble covering their medical costs.


1 in 5: Ratio of Americans who are unpaid caregivers.

60: Percentage who are women.

45: Percentage who are age 45 and younger.

Source: CDC

Stories From the Waiting Room

Patients beset by chronic illness often set limits to interventions they want to receive in a hospital, particularly in the last months of life. A recent study looked at the cases of 1,800 such patients and whether those instructions were followed.

It found that in more than one-third of cases, received care was potentially discordant with their wishes. This happened most often when patients came to hospitals because of a trauma, not their chronic illness. On the other hand, patients with dementia were more likely to receive care that complied with their wishes.

Doc Talk

Labyrinthitis: a balancing problem caused by an inner ear disorder.

Phobia of the Week

Ablutophobia: fear of washing or bathing.

Never Say Diet

The Major League Eating speed-eating record for Moon Pies (a confection of graham cookies, marshmallow and chocolate coating) is 85 in 8 minutes, held by Matt Stonie. (Eating more than one Moon Pie, which contains 385 calories and 35 grams of sugar, is lunacy.)

Best Medicine

Doctor: "You have a very contagious disease. We must quarantine you, and you will be fed only bologna and pizza."

Patient: "Will that cure me?"

Doctor: "No, but that's all we can fit under the door."


"To care for those who once cared for us is one of the highest honors." — author Tia Walker

Medical History

This week in 1986, the first virus produced with genetic engineering was approved for use in a vaccine by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The virus was designed for veterinary medicine to fight a form of swine herpes.

Perishable Publications

Many, if not most, published research papers have titles that defy comprehension. They use specialized jargon, complex words and opaque phrases like "nonlinear dynamics." Sometimes they don't, and yet they're still hard to figure out. Here's an actual title of actual published research study: "Prevalence and persistence of male DNA identified in mixed saliva samples after intense kissing."

Slovakian researchers were interested in whether kissing might be useful in solving crimes, or at least those involving, say, kissing bandits. They asked 12 couples to passionately smooch for at least two minutes and then tested the women's saliva for evidence of male DNA at intervals of five, 10, 30 and 60 minutes later.

Their conclusion, published in Forensic Science International: Genetics in 2012, was yep: DNA lingers, just like a kiss.

Med School

Q: The human body, like everything short of, say, a black hole in space, is mostly empty space. If you were to compress a human body so that all of its actual matter were squeezed together, how big would it be cubewise?

a) 1/500th of a centimeter on each side

b) 1/250th of a centimeter

c) 1/50th of a centimeter

d) 1 centimeter

Note: A centimeter is about one-third of an inch.

Answer: 1/500th of a centimeter

Last Words

"You don't have the children with you. Stop for a quickie." — Patricia Lyons Simon Newman Gelbin (1929-2013), speaking to her son NPR radio host Scott Simon on her death bed

To find out more about Scott LaFee and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Photo credit: truthseeker08 at Pixabay

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