Parkinson’s disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects how the person moves, including how they speak and write. Symptoms develop gradually, and may start off with ever-so-slight tremors in one hand. People with Parkinson’s disease also experience stiffness and find they cannot carry out movements as rapidly as before.

parkinsonsDisease

Risk factor:

  • Age – the older you get the greater the risk. Although Parkinson’s disease can affect young people, however this is exceptional.
  • Genetics – a person who has a close relative (brother, sister, mother, father) with Parkinson’s disease has a slightly higher risk of developing it himself/herself, compared to others. Even so, according to The Mayo Clinic, USA, the risk is still less than 5%.
  • Gender – males are slightly more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease compared to females.
  • Toxin Exposure – individuals who have been exposed to some chemicals, such as carbon monoxide, herbicides or pesticides have a slightly higher risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, compared to other people.
  • Some Medications – such as antipsychotics used to treat severe paranoia and schizophrenia can cause Parkinsonism (symptoms that resemble Parkinson’s disease).

Causes:

Parkinson’s disease is caused by the degeneration or destruction of dopamine-producing nerve cells (dopaminergic cells), which in turn makes it harder for the brain to control and coordinate muscle movement.

Symptoms:

  • A tendency to stoop, to lean forward
  • Cramping
  • Drooling
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of facial expression
  • Slowness of movement
  • Slowed motion
  • Shaking
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Speech problems
  • Swallowing difficulties
  • The arms may not swing when walking
  • Sleep problems
  • Depression
  • Loss of energy
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Parenthesis
  • Reduced sensation of pain
  • Reduced sense of smell
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Urinary retention

Treatment:

  • Deep Brain Stimulation:
    A surgical procedure used to treat several disabling neurological symptoms, such as tremor, rigidity, stiffness, slowed movement and walking difficulties.
  • Thalamotomy :
    The thalamus is destroyed (lesioned) or removed by cutting (ablated). The thalamus is a tiny part of the brain. The procedure may help reduce tremor. Thalamotomy is rarely performed these days.
  • Subthalamotomy:
    Rarely performed these days. The subthalamus, a very small area of the brain, is destroyed.
  • Pallidotomy:
    Since the introduction of deep brain stimulation, this procedure is rarely done. The gobus pallidus, a part of the brain, may be overactive in patients with Parkinson’s disease, causing a different part of the brain which controls movement to become less active. The surgeon destroys a small part of the globus pallidus by creating a scar, resulting in less activity in that area of the brain, which in turn may help relieve movement symptoms, such as rigidity and tremor.
  • Speech Therapy:
    According to the National Health Service (NHS), UK, approximately half of all Parkinson’s patients experience communication problems, such as slurred speech and poor body language. A speech and language therapist can help with the use of language and speech. Patients with swallowing difficulties may also be helped by a speech therapist.