Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects movement and muscle control. The progressive loss of muscle control causes hindrance in the daily activities of patients. The limbs and head start trembling while at rest too. It also leads to stiffness, slowness and loss of balance. As the disease progresses, eventually it becomes difficult to talk or walk.
The impact of the disease is different for different individuals. Some may be able to continue with a little discomfort in normal life, but some may face extreme disability and complications too. Generally the onset of this disease is seen in individuals over the age of 60. However, some cases of adult and juvenile Parkinson’s have been observed too.
So, what exactly causes Parkinson’s?
The communication between two areas of the brain is made possible by a substance called dopamine to produce smooth and controlled movements. When the amount of dopamine reduces, the communication between the two areas of the brain reduces and movements become impaired. Other cells also degenerate and contribute to the movement related problems.
The most common symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are:
The most common symptoms of this disease are related to voluntary and involuntary movements:
The most common symptoms are trembling fingers, hands, feet, jaws or head. These tremors are seen when the patient is resting – not necessarily when working. When the person is tired or stressed, the tremors may worsen.
Stiffness of limbs is observed and this leads to pain when limbs are moved. Fine hand movements are lost and handwriting could be badly affected.
Voluntary movements are drastically slowed down. Over a period of time, it becomes difficult to initiate movements and more difficult to complete an action.
The inability to move freely makes it difficult to maintain proper posture and balance. Lost reflexes can also cause an individual to fall.
Those with an advanced stage of this disease develop a shuffling gait. There is very little arm movement and it becomes increasingly difficult to start walking and take turns. Sometimes individuals can abruptly stop walking and fall down.
Some of the other symptoms for this disease are anxiety, insecurity, stress and confusion. In adults memory loss and dementia is also observed. Difficulty swallowing and constipation are some of the other signs seen in Parkinson’s patients. There could be a reduced sense of smell and increased sweating. Slowed speech and skin problems are also observed in some.
Early diagnosis can help in enabling patients to regain a better quality life. It helps in developing good Parkinson treatment strategies. There is no perfect cure for Parkinson’s. There are certain therapies that can be used to ameliorate motor symptoms. All these therapies are used to increase the amount of dopamine in the brain. For those patients with advanced and more visibly unmanageable movement loss, deep brain stimulation surgery is an option. Stem cell therapy has also used to treat Parkinson’s disease.
Physical therapy and general lifestyle changes can greatly help with some movements.