Parkinson’s unresponsive episodes.

Posted by bethv @bethv, Sep 16, 2018

My father, 93 years old, is suffering these unresponsive episodes, not to be confused with “freezing” of gait. The episode can last two hours and we think might be related to dehydration. Why can’t I find any mention of this in any web sites that describe Parkinson’s? Only in caregiver sites have I found any information. Is no one studying this phenomenon? There may be some connection here that needs investigation.

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Hello @tiffmiller and welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. I'm glad that you found this discussion group. As you can see, others have also been concerned about their family members having this unresponsive episode. It is certainly frightening for the family and caregivers to watch this happening.

I would like to invite @bethv, @chuckcallahan @mshoggie @judithanne to join you in this discussion.

I'm glad to hear that your father-in-law will be receiving palliative care in the near future. This will certainly help him to get good care.

What type of treatment has he received since being diagnosed with PD. Is he taking carbidopa/levodopa? Has he had any physical therapy?

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Hi, thank you so much for your response. His medication list and schedule is as follows:

5am: carbidopa-levodopa x2
*sulfamethoxazole (antibiotic)
9am: carbidopa-levodopa x2
1pm: carbidopa-levodopa x2
5pm: carbidopa-levodopa x2
9pm: carbidopa-levo ER x1

As for PT, it has been challenging with Medicare because they were only approved for 6 weeks of PT/year so he really hasn’t had much. He has a trainer that comes to the house to help get him moving but he has still lost so much mobility. It has been challenging for him and my mother in law to make appointments as it is so tedious to get him places. I am hopeful that with palliative care on board, he will have access to weekly PT and OT at home. His last two hospital stays have been hard on him as he has been unable to leave his bed so even more weakness and decreased mobility. He also purchased a bike (maybe a year ago?) that is supposed to be helpful with PD and I think initially he was pretty faithful with it but I am unclear how much he is still using it.


Diagnosed in September 1991 when almost 49, my wife began taking Sinemet and similar medications at the direction of several neurologists in several cities where I worked.
By September 2013 her PD was considered unmanageable using tablets so she was introduced to Apomorphine. When Apomorphine was found not to be effective enough she was transferred to Duodopa in April 2015. At present Duodopa is her only PD medication.
My wife has been unable to stand or walk for the last 6 years so is confined to a wheelchair during most of her waking hours.
Her first “Parkinson’s Unresponsive Episode” happened in May 2019 after I had placed her on her commode then found she was unresponsive, sitting upright, wide-eyed and staring straight ahead. I rang for an ambulance which took her to Emergency where blood, urine & CT tests revealed “nothing remarkable”. On following Emergency visits mild UTI’s were blamed for the unresponsiveness episodes and antibiotics were prescribed. The last time I sent her to Emergency the doctor on duty told me to “Wait a little longer before calling an ambulance” when I asked, “What should I do the next time this happens?” Several times she came out of the unresponsiveness by the time the ambulance arrived so the trip to Emergency was cancelled. I estimate each period of unresponsiveness lasted between 30 minutes and two hours. Last week she seemed to have three unresponsive periods each lasting up to 30 minutes over a period of four hours.
During her unresponsive periods her BP is normal, and an oximeter usually shows her oxygen level 95% or slightly less so it beeps at me.
I call my wife’s “episodes” the “Zombie Effect”, not a professional description perhaps but does convey what I observe quite aptly.
Also, my wife suffers considerable pain and discomfort in her legs from dyskinesia. I have found that laying her down on her back, or on her right side, or on her left side may often cause the dyskinesia to cease abruptly; unfortunately, not always though.

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