Parkinson’s disease affects the central nervous system attacking the motor neurons in the brain making life difficult not only in terms of carrying out traditional daily duties, but even simple communication becomes difficult. Other examples of movement disorders are cerebral palsy, ataxia, and Tourette’s syndrome. It is estimated that close to 50,000 new cases are diagnosed in a year here in the U.S. alone. The symptoms begin gradually, maybe a slight tremor in a hand and a feeling of stiffness in the body. These side effects always grow worse with time, some people’s symptoms stay related to motor control while other patients often develop dementia. The reduced amount of dopamine in the brain is what causes most of the symptoms to develop
The first symptoms that are noticeable are a slight tremor in the hands, they shake when trying to hold something still, and often drop items. They have a reduced sense of coordination and may drop items or fall easily. Their shoulders hunch forward as if in a hurry although their gait resembles shuffling more than walking. The loss of a sense of smell is an early indicator of Parkinson’s disease, their facial muscles may become fixed from nerve damage to the nerves responsible for facial expression, this can even cause a tremor in the voice as the nerves controlling the voice box are affected also.
Other Common Symptoms
Changes in a person's mood are frequent. People afflicted with Parkinson’s can become very frustrated as their body fails around them. Because of the effect on muscles, they have problems chewing and swallowing, going to the bathroom, frequent skin conditions and problems sleeping.
Causes of Parkinson’s Disease
Researchers have identified certain combinations of specific genetic mutations responsible for the development of Parkinson’s in familial groupings. Certain key genetic markers all contribute something to a person developing the condition. Even with these various triggers identified researchers are still no closer to finding a cure for the condition, but there are treatment options that can make life more comfortable for people living with Parkinson’s. There still is no definitive test that can conclusively say who will get it and who will not, it’s not within the realm of society's knowledge however diagnosing the condition earlier and earlier is becoming possible. It is usually a neurologist who will make the final diagnosis based on a patient’s medical history, a review of the patient’s symptoms and a test called a SPECT or single-photon emission computerized tomography scan, sometimes used in conjunction with a DAT (dopamine transporter scan). In order to nail down the diagnosis, the doctor may order additional testing not to reveal a positive result for Parkinson's, but to rule out other conditions that have similar side effects.
Treatment for Parkinson’s Disease
There is no cure that exists for Parkinson’s disease although there are medications to help a person manage their symptoms when that ceases to work there are surgical measures that can be done to lessen a patient’s symptoms like DBS or Deep Brain Stimulation. A neurosurgeon will implant electrodes into specific regions in the brain, which are connected to a generator placed in the chest which sends electrical signals to the brain to help control the muscular tics and shakes. This is the last reserve for people whose Parkinson’s cannot be controlled through medication.
Other treatments for Parkinson’s include:
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