The month of April marks “Parkinson’s Disease (PD) Awareness Month” – a good time to generate public attention about PD – a progressive neurodegenerative disorder. Sponsored by the Parkinson’s Foundation, the campaign makes life better for people with PD by improving care and advancing research towards a possible cure. A neurodegenerative disorder, PD involves progressive damage of the brain over many years. It leads to progressive deterioration of motor function due to loss of dopamine-producing brain cells. The exact cause of PD is unknown, but several factors like genes, the presence of Lewy bodies in brain cells and environmental triggers appear to play a crucial role. Initial symptoms of this condition may vary from one person to another. However, in most cases early symptoms may be mild and unnoticed. Although this neurological condition can’t be fully cured, medications can dramatically reduce or improve the severity of symptoms. However, in advanced cases, surgery may be recommended to regulate certain regions of the brain and improve the symptoms. Billing and coding for PD can be a challenging process. Relying on the services of a reputable physician coding company can help in precise documentation of this neurodegenerative disorder.

Prior to COVID, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) rated complications from PD as the 14th leading cause of death in the United States. As per reports from the Parkinson’s Foundation, PD affects about 10 million people globally and about 1 million people in the United States. In most cases, only 4 percent of all cases are diagnosed before age 50 and hence aging is the biggest risk factor for developing PD. In fact, PD is regarded as the second most common age-related nerve degenerating disease after Alzheimer’s.

The month-long campaign is a unique platform to promote a better understanding about this neurological disorder and how it can affect a person. It aims to highlight the symptoms and risk factors associated with this condition and diagnose it during the early stages or even prevent it if possible. Often, symptoms of PD begin on one side of the body and usually remain worse on that side, even after symptoms begin to affect both sides. Generally, this condition develops gradually, (beginning with a barely noticeable tremor in just one hand). On the other hand, it can also cause stiffness or slowing of movement. Other common signs and symptoms include – slowed movement (bradykinesia), rigid muscles, speech changes, impaired posture and balance, loss of automatic movements and writing changes.

There are no specific tests that exist to diagnose Parkinson’s disease. Initial diagnosis of the condition may begin with a detailed evaluation of medical history, review of signs and symptoms and a neurological and physical examination. Neurologists or other physicians may request a specific single-photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT) scan called a dopamine transporter scan (DaTscan). Imaging tests like – MRI, ultrasound of the brain, and PET scans may also be used to help rule out other disorders. In addition, physicians may also order lab tests, such as blood tests, to rule out other conditions that may be causing the symptoms. Treatment methods include medications and incorporating several positive lifestyle changes. Medications will help people manage problems with walking, movement and tremor. These medications also increase or substitute for dopamine, a specific signaling chemical (neurotransmitter) in the brain. Neurologists who diagnose and administer treatment procedures must correctly document the same using the right medical codes. Physician billing services provided by professional providers ensure that the correct medical codes are reported on the claims. ICD-10 codes for diagnosing PD include –

G20 – Parkinson’s Disease

G21 – Secondary Parkinsonism

  • G21.0 – Malignant neuroleptic syndrome
  • G21.1 – Other drug-induced secondary parkinsonism
  • G21.2 – Secondary parkinsonism due to other external agents
  • G21.3 – Postencephalitic parkinsonism
  • G21.4 – Vascular parkinsonism
  • G21.8 – Other secondary parkinsonism
  • G21.9 – Secondary parkinsonism, unspecified

As part of the campaign, hospitals, healthcare centers, and other types of medical facilities across the world will host education seminars, podcasts, fitness classes, discussions, and presentations and share information on social media to raise public awareness about PD. The theme for the 2021 campaign is – #KnowMorePD – which aims to challenge people to test their knowledge of Parkinson’s disease and spread the word. In keeping with the event’s theme, the foundation developed what it calls a #KnowMorePD Quiz – which supporters are asked to share on social media. If the quiz is taken during April, participants will be entered into a weekly drawing for a $25 Amazon gift card. Supporters are encouraged to submit narratives to the organization’s “My PD Story” effort to tell people what it’s like to live with Parkinson’s and how the foundation is helping. Supporters are encouraged to post to social media using the hashtag #KnowMorePD. “All throughout the month, photos, videos, facts, stories, and resources on social media will be posted to raise awareness about PD and the Parkinson’s Foundation efforts to spread awareness about PD. People can follow along and engage with @ParkinsonDotOrg on their social media platform of choice for the newest information to help you #KnowMorePD.