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Parkinson’s Disease

What is Parkinson’s disease?

Parkinson’s Disease is a disorder that belongs to a group of conditions known as motor system disorders. These disorders are degenerative; and in the case of Parkinson’s disease, it occurs in the central nervous center. Nerve cells and neurons are damaged causing the chemical they produce, dopamine, not to function properly in the part of the brain that controls muscle movement. The lack of producing the chemical dopamine is due to neurons and nerve cells dying. As a result, the signals that dopamine normally would send to coordinate movement’s no longer work. It is more common in men than women and usually starts around sixty years old; though it can start earlier than that. The disease can result in dementia in its advance form.

Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease

Symptoms can vary for every individual; the earliest signs are very subtle and go unnoticed most time. The symptoms can begin on one side of the body and will there after remain worse on the side. The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are:

  • Automatic movement is slowed
  • Constipation
  • Trembling hands, arms, legs, jaw, and face
  • Stiffness of the arms, legs, and trunk
  • Slowness of movement
  • Poor balance and coordination.
  • Trouble walking or talking
  • Trouble chewing, swallowing, or speaking
  • Drooling
  • Muscle aches and pains

What Causes Parkinson’s disease?

One of the main causes of Parkinson disease is the lack of dopamine; the lack of the chemical results in most symptoms that are sent. Damage to nerve endings that produces the chemical norepinephrine that acts as the messenger to the automatic functions, causes problems with the autonomic nervous system.

Genetic mutation has also been shown to play a role in Parkinson’s disease that could be genetic inheritance or mutation from environment exposure to toxins or viruses that trigger the disease.

Parkinson’s disease can occur in young people usually because of a disease that runs in the family or if the nerves in children are not sensitive to dopamine.

Diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease

In the early stages of the disease, there are no definite ways to diagnose Parkinson’s disease due in part to the fact that the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease can be caused by other problems. For this reason the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease will be based off a neurological test and previous medical history. The test that are used during the neurological examination are:

  • Bradykinesia—is a test to see how quickly a person can snap their fingers or tap foot up and down. This tests the motor control function.
  • Tremors are tested by a simple visual inspection.
  • Rigidity is tested by moving the neck and limbs while the patient is relax to test for resistance
  • Postural instability—deals with balance and is tested by the pull test, which has the patient maintain their balance when being pulled backwards to see how fast they can recover.

Treatment of Parkinson’s disease

Since there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease the goal for treatment is to control the symptoms. Medications can control symptomology by increasing the dopamine in the brain. These drugs after prolonged usage can become weaker as the symptoms become less responsive to the treatment. The side effects also can be dangerous; causing side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, delirium, and hallucinations.

In some cases, surgery is an option. One form is by implanting electrical stimulators in the brain; specific areas of brain that help with movements. Another form of surgery destroys the brain tissue that causes Parkinson disease.

How to Prevent and Manage Parkinson’s disease

There is no way to actively prevent Parkinson’s disease from occurring because the causes of Parkinson disease aren’t known. For this reason, there is no advice that can be given to prevent Parkinson’s disease. The best way to cope with the disease is by eating healthy foods and trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Walking can be away to manage Parkinson’s disease; as balance is thrown off, walking with care is suggested. Trying not to move quickly, watching where you plant your feet – usually where the heel hits the floor first, when walking. Avoiding falls is another factor that one must cope with. To lessen this one should not pivot the body around if there is a chance of a push or bump. Maintaining one’s center of gravity of one’s feet will help with balance.
Dressing is a problem that proves to be a frustrating endeavors and should be performed with time to spare. By pre-selecting clothing and making sure selected clothing are easily put on and instead using fasteners such as buttons things like Velcro or snaps.

References:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001762/
http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/parkinsons_disease/parkinsons_disease.htm
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/parkinsonsdisease.html
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/parkinsons-disease/DS00295