WHAT IS PARKINSON’S DISEASE?
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive and chronic disorder that affects the central nervous system (CNS). It belongs to a group of conditions referred to as motor disorders. This condition persists over a long period of time and its symptoms grow worse over time.
WHAT CAUSES PARKISON’S DISEASE?
The exact cause of Parkinson’s disease is not conclusively known. What it known is that the condition occurs when neurons in the brain become impaired or die as from regular head trauma. This condition is also associated with the loss of neurons in an area of the brain called the substantia nigra.
These neurons produce dopamine which is the chemical messenger that facilitates the transmission of signals between the substantia nigra and the corpus striatum, to produce smooth and purposeful movement. Impaired movement results from abnormal nerve firing patterns due to loss of dopamine.
Researchers have identified several gene mutations including alphasynuclein gene mutation that may be contributing factors to the development of Parkinson’s disease. Exposure to certain chemicals such as MPTP and metal manganese has been known to cause Parkinsonian symptoms.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF PARKINSON’S DISEASE?
· Tremor- the tremor associated with this condition is in the form of rhythmic back and forth motions at a rate of about 4-6 beats/second. The tremor usually begins in one hand, although sometimes the jaw or a foot is affected first. This is the first symptom that causes individuals to seek medical assistance.
· Bradykinesia- this is the slowing down of spontaneous and automatic movements. It makes doing simple tasks difficult. The affected may also exhibit a decrease in facial expressions.
· Rigidity- this is resistance to movement. The muscles of the affected stay constantly contracted and tense in a way that the individual feels stiff and mild aches. The affected body part will exhibit short jerky movement when another person attempts to move it.
The particular symptoms and rate of progression will differ among individuals. There are other non-motor symptoms including;
There are four primary symptoms of Parkinson’s disease;
· Olfactory and taste dysfunction.
· Swallowing difficulties.
· Sexual dysfunction.
· Difficulty sleeping.
WHAT ARE THE TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR PARKINSON’S DISEASE?
At present, there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease. Surgery and medication can provide improvement in the motor and non-motor symptoms.
There are three categories of medication for Parkinson’s disease.
- The first category includes medications that increase the dopamine levels in the brain. These are often referred to as dopamine precursors.
- The second category includes drugs that affect the neurotransmitters in order to ease some of the motor symptoms. Anticholinergic medicines are particularly effective for tremors.
- The third category involves medications that are administered to help alleviate the non-motor symptoms.
If drug therapy is not successful, a physician may recommend surgery. There have been great improvements in the surgical techniques for treating Parkinson’s disease in the last few years including;
· Deep Brain Stimulation.
There are other complementary and supportive treatment options such as physical, speech, occupational, nutritional and psychological therapy.
With proper care, the average lifespan of a person with Parkinson’s disease is generally the same as for individuals without the disease. Fortunately, it can be managed through available treatment options. Kentucky Neurology and Rehab has skilled physicians on staff to assist and treat patients with Parkinson’s Disease.