What is Parkinsonís Disease?
Causes of Parkinsonís DiseaseParkinsonís (PD) is a slowly progressive disease caused by the loss of dopamine brain cells (neurons). Dopamine, are brain cells produced in the substantia nigra of the brain. It is a neurotransmitter and a chemical messenger. Messages are transmitted between the substantia nigra and other parts of the body by dopamine. Dopamine brain cell death causes lesser dopamine. This causes impairment of movement in body parts.
Early Symptoms and Signs of Parkinsonís diseaseThe symptoms of Parkinsonís disease begins when about 50 to 80 percent of dopamine neurons have died and it is hard for doctors to detect PD at its early stages. However, about 70 per cent of people with the disease experience slight tremors in the hand and the foot over one side of the body. The symptoms are branched out to ĎPrimary Motor Symptomsí and ĎSecondary Motor Symptomsí.
The Primary Motor Symptoms are as described here:
ďResting tremorĒ is usually experienced and happens when a personís muscles are completely relaxed. Typically, tremors on one finger are prominent.
ďSlow movementĒ also known as bradykinesia or movement disorder is another symptom that results in abnormal stiffness and decreases facial expression. A personís repetitive movements and routine functions are also often affected. This condition of slow movement may often lead to reduced speech.
ďRigidityĒ is yet another condition resulting in stiffness and the muscles do not relax like in a normal person. The person experiences rigidity in the neck, shoulder and legs.
ďPostural instabilityĒ is the most important sign of a PD patient. The person with this condition loses some reflexes essential for maintaining an upright posture. Patients with balance problem may have difficulty when turning around or pivoting or during quick movements.
Freezing causes fear to put the foot forward. The person feels that their feet are stuck to the ground. However it is a temporary feeling.
Micrographia is the result of a Parkinsonís patient whose handwriting shrinks. Mask-like Expression happens due to decreased and unconscious facial movements. A PD patient exhibits flexed posture resulting from rigidity and bradykinesia.
Unwanted accelerations occur in PD patients and cause trouble in speech and movement. People who experience festination face greater risks to falls.
Stages of Parkinsonís DiseaseStage I: This is the mildest stage of PD which least interferes with routine tasks. Tremors and other symptoms are restricted to one side of the body.
Stage II: It is a moderate stage in PD where stiffness, tremors and trembling can be noted and facial expressions may change. The symptoms are sensed on both sides of the body.
Stage III: This is the mid-stage in PD, which symbolizes a major change point in PD progression. In addition to loss of balance and decreased flexes, the symptoms mentioned in stage II also occur. Occupational therapy combined with medication may help in decreasing the symptoms.
Stage IV: In this progressive stage, it becomes difficult for the patient to move without a walker or other assistive device. However, the person can stand without assistance.
Stage V: This is the most advanced and debilitating stage of PD. Stiffness in legs may cause freezing when standing. Patients are frequently unable to stand without falling. They may experience hallucinations and occasional delusions.
Diagnosis of Parkinsonís DiseaseIn order to diagnose Parkinsonís disease, the physician takes a neurological history and executes an examination. Clinical information provided by the PD person and findings from neurological examination plays a key role in the diagnosis, as there are no standard diagnostic tests available. The observations carried out include:
The doctor examines the PD patientís expression
The patientís arms are observed for any tremors that may occur at rest or when extended
Stiffness in limbs or neck are observed
It is checked if the patient can rise from a chair easily
The patientís pattern of walking is observed; the patient may be walking in short steps.
It is examined if the patientís arms swing symmetrically
Also, the patientís quickness in regaining balance is checked
Prognosis of Parkinsonís DiseaseOver the years, it has been concluded that most PD patients respond to medications. However, the duration of drug efficiency varies from one person to another. Movement disorder and also non-motor symptoms vary from person to person. These affect PD patients at all stages of the disease. For some PD patients, fatigue or depression may be more complicated to deal with than movement disorders.
Treatment for Parkinsonís DiseaseIn order to manage the symptoms of PD, it is common for PD patients to take an assortment of medications at different times and in different doses. A proper medication schedule provides great benefits to the patient. Certain classes of medication are available to treat PD. However, the exact condition of the patient and symptoms are diagnosed before prescribing the right combinations of medication and treatments.
Some of the Medications are mentioned below:
Carbidopa/ Levodopa Therapy