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Understanding Parkinson’s Disease

Mar 29, 2017

Understanding Parkinson’s Disease

A disease known to take over a person’s brain cells, Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a chronic neuro - degenerative brain disorder. In most people, Parkinson’s is known to progress slowly and it takes years for the person to develop and display symptoms, forcing them to live with the disease for years. Parkinson’s is persistent and the symptoms continue to worsen with time. Presently, there is no known cause of the disease while the research to locate the same is on-going. Though not fatal by itself, the complications that arise due to the disease are serious and are a cause of a difficult life. A cure for Parkinson’s is unavailable and the treatment offered via medication and surgery is only symptomatic. Parkinson’s targets brain cells (neurons) concentrated in one region of the brain called the substantia nigra leading to their death. This region plays an important function in movement. The neurons concentrated in this area are responsible for producing dopamine, a chemical (neurotransmitter) that is involved in motor control by acting as a messenger between the brain and the body. The progressive destruction of these neurons leads to a dip in the dopamine content in the body thereby leaving the patient with an inability to control the muscular movements. Majority of the symptoms of this disease may present themselves differently person to person. But a set of symptoms is constant throughout every patient and they are: • Tremoring of hands, legs, jaw and face • Slow movements also known as bradykinesia • Stiff limbs • Impaired balance and co-ordination of movements • Postural instability In addition, the discovery of constant abnormal aggregates (clumps) of proteins known as Lewy Bodies in all the patients suffering from the disease has led the researchers to believe the possibility of loss of cells in the other regions of the brain and the body. Some patients experience irregular sleep pattern and impairment in sense of smell. All these symptoms can be attributed to the presence of the Lewy bodies in other parts like the brain stem and the olfactory bulb (responsible for sense of smell). Parkinson’s is a majorly misunderstood disease and it is difficult for a person suffering from Parkinson’s to lead a normal life. Expert care and support from family and friends can make it a bit easier from them to cope. Disclaimer: The information given in this write-up is purely for educating the reader. It is not meant to be a substitute for any advice from a medical expert.

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