Overview Of Parkinson’s
Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder and its first signs are problems with movement.
It is also known as Paralysis agitans and shaking palsy.
Parkinson’s develops when brain cells stop working properly. These brain cells produce a chemical called dopamine that helps coordinate muscle movement.
The area of the brain called the “substantia nigra” produces dopamine.
When dopamine levels drop to 60 to 80 percent, Parkinson’s symptoms start to appear.
There’s currently no cure for Parkinson’s disease.
Causes Of Parkinson’s
Parkinson’s disease causes the brain cells that make dopamine to die slowly.
Without dopamine, the cells that control movement cannot send proper messages to the muscles which makes it difficult to control the muscles.
Over time, this damage worsens, and no one knows what causes these brain cells to waste away.
- The disease tends to affect men more than women, although women also develop the disease. Parkinson’s disease sometimes runs in families.
- The disease can occur in younger adults, and in such cases, it is often due to the person’s genes.
- Parkinson’s disease is rare in children.
Parkinson’s signs and symptoms may include:
- Shaking in the hands or fingers
- Reduced coordination
- Slightly forward-leaning posture
- Fixed facial expression due to changes in facial muscle nerves
- Tremor in the voice
- Handwriting may become smaller and more cramped
- Loss of sense of smell
- Sleep problems
Other symptoms of Parkinson’s are:
- Mood changes, including depression
- Difficulty swallowing and chewing
- Skin problems
- Problems with urination
Treatment Of Parkinson’s
Treatment for Parkinson’s is based on one’s symptoms.
Medication and surgical therapy are options for treatment. Other options include lifestyle changes like more exercise and rest.
Most Parkinson’s disease patients will need medication to check motor symptoms.
Physical, occupational and speech therapy
Physical, occupational, and speech therapists can be important partners.
The physical therapy directs you towards the right exercise regimen and improves your gait.
Occupational therapy helps you maximize fine motor skills.
Speech therapy helps address speech and language barriers associated with Parkinson’s.
The surgical option: Deep Brain Stimulation
Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) entails the implanting an electrode into a specific area of the brain, usually the globus pallidus internal (GPI) or the subthalamic nucleus (STN). The implants can be done on either or both sides of the brain.
A pacemaker-like device stimulates the electrodes under the skin in the chest. Patients with a robust response to Levodopa, no significant problems with balance, and no significant psychiatric or cognitive problems are considered good candidates for this procedure.
It could help patients with medication-resistant tremors and significant motor fluctuations. Extra movements or dyskinesias may occur as a side effect.
A healthy diet maximizes the potential of medications, increases energy, and promotes overall well-being.
Proper exercise can include:
- Flexibility exercises (stretching)
- Cardiorespiratory exercises (fitness training)
- Gait and balance training
- Resistance exercises (strength training)
Mild symptoms such as tremors, rigidity, or slow movement in one arm or leg on one side of the body characterize this stage. These symptoms usually do not interfere with daily life. Close relatives or friends may notice changes in facial expression.
The body axis starts to be affected, but there is no impairment of balance.
Symptoms worsen at this stage with rigidity, tremor, and other movements affecting the body axis and also both sides of the body. Poor posture and problems with walking are evident. Daily activities also become more difficult, though the patient person is still capable of living alone.
At this stage, the body balance becomes impaired, However, the patient is still able to recover from the pull test used to assess stability. This test involves pulling the patient backward on the shoulders. The extent to which balance has been affected is determined by the patient’s ability to recover.
This stage is characterized by slowness of movement and a loss of balance. It is more common to fall during this stage. The patient can live alone and do daily activities such as eating and dressing up.
In this stage of Parkinson’s, the symptoms are very limiting and severe. Though it is still possible for the patient to stand without assistance, they will not be able to live alone.
In the most advanced stages, patients have great difficulty walking or standing. They are unable to live by themselves and may require a wheelchair to move around. and therefore assistance is needed in all daily activities. Besides motor symptoms, the person may experience or believe things that are not true.