P is for Parkinson’s Disease

August 24, 2021

Parkinson’s disease is a neurological is a progressive condition of the nervous system which affects movement. The symptoms start gradually, sometimes starting with a barely noticeable tremor in just one hand. Tremors are common, but the disorder also commonly causes stiffness or slowing of movement. There is a characteristic gait pattern.

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that primarily affects the motor system. It is a chronic and progressive condition that develops due to the loss of dopamine-producing cells in a region of the brain called the substantia nigra. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays a crucial role in controlling movement and coordination.

Key points about Parkinson’s disease:

  1. Symptoms: Parkinson’s disease is characterized by a variety of motor and non-motor symptoms, which can vary in severity and progression among individuals. The primary motor symptoms include:
    • Tremor: Typically a resting tremor, which commonly affects the hands, fingers, or limbs.
    • Bradykinesia: Slowness of movement and difficulty initiating and controlling voluntary movements.
    • Rigidity: Stiffness and resistance of muscles, which can lead to limited range of motion.
    • Postural Instability: Impaired balance and coordination, resulting in a tendency to fall.
    Non-motor symptoms may include depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, cognitive changes, loss of sense of smell, constipation, and others.
  2. Causes: The exact cause of Parkinson’s disease is unknown, but it is believed to involve a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Certain genetic mutations and abnormal protein accumulation (such as alpha-synuclein) in the brain are associated with the development of Parkinson’s disease. Environmental factors, such as exposure to certain toxins, may also contribute to the risk.
  3. Diagnosis: Diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease is primarily based on clinical symptoms and medical history. There are no specific tests to definitively diagnose Parkinson’s disease, so healthcare professionals rely on observing the characteristic symptoms and ruling out other conditions that may present similar symptoms.
  4. Treatment: While there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, treatment aims to manage symptoms and improve quality of life. The main treatment approaches include:
    • Medications: Various medications are used to increase dopamine levels or mimic its effects in the brain, helping to alleviate motor symptoms. These include levodopa, dopamine agonists, MAO-B inhibitors, and others.
    • Physical Therapy: Physical therapy, including exercises and stretching, can help maintain mobility, improve balance, and reduce muscle stiffness.
    • Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS): In some cases, DBS surgery may be recommended. It involves implanting electrodes in specific areas of the brain to deliver electrical impulses, helping to control motor symptoms.
  5. Support and Lifestyle Modifications: Supportive care and lifestyle modifications can play a significant role in managing Parkinson’s disease. This may include a healthy and balanced diet, regular exercise, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and psychological support.


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