Parkinson's disease, now one of the most common neurological ailments worldwide, is a degenerative disease of the brain. It primarily impacts the brain cells that produces dopamine, a neurotransmitter that transmits impulses from one terminal end of a nerve cell to another.
In Parkinson's disease, even the simple act of walking may become quite complex. With advancing age, the dopamine secretions get depleted, leading to an increase in involuntary body movements
or dyskinesias, and impairing coordinated movements of the limbs.
The disease can affect the body in many ways. The most common symptoms of Parkinson's Disease include:
- Trembling or shaking
- A stooped posture
- Muscular stiffness
- Short shuffling steps
- Speaking softly and monotonously
- Poor balance
- Poor handwriting
- Slowness of body movements
There is no cure available for Parkinson's disease. Many patients are only mildly affected and need no treatment for several years, after the initial diagnosis. When symptoms become severe, doctors usually prescribe levodopa
, or L-DOPA
. Dopamine cannot be administered, as it does not cross the blood barrier of the brain, hence Levodopa, its precursor, is administered.
L-DOPA helps supplement the brain's neurotransmitter dopamine. The most common medication protocol is Sinemet
, which is Levodopa used in combination, with carbidopa, to enhance therapeutic effects. Surgeries and deep brain stimulation are other invasive options.
Yet, modern medical management is considered largely unsatisfactory, as it is limited to symptom alleviation. According to experts, drug efficacy diminishes with long-term use and is associated with motor complications and unpleasant side effects, such as vomiting and nausea. None of the current available drugs are capable of delaying or stopping the progression of Parkinson's.