Parkinson's Disease

February 16, 2011

Parkinson's Disease (PD) was described for the first time in 1817 by James Parkinson as a degenerative disease of the central nervous system.

This disease can affect both males and females, but is usually found in individuals who are above 50.

It’s an idiopathic disease with an unknown cause where a cellular death takes place in the  dopamine producing neurones. It is characterised by muscle rigidity, tremors, slowing of physical movements and even a loss of physical movement in extreme cases.

The primary symptoms are the results of decreased stimulation of the motor cortex by the basal ganglia, normally caused by the insufficient formation and action of dopamine, which is produced in the dopaminergic neurones of the brain.

Clinical ManifestoesParkinson's Disease is characterised by the combination of three classical signs – tremors when in rest; stickiness and bradcinesia. The patient can present alterations while walking and also when standing on their own – standing in a curvy way to the front.

The symptoms usually start in the superior ends and are usually unilateral due to the asymmetry of the brain degeneration.

It usually starts with muscular tremors that tend to begin in one hand and then on the leg of the same side, and finally in the remaining parts of the body.

This tremor is stronger when the sufferer is taking rest, holding objects or going through a period of stress. In most cases, it is possible to see this in the patient’s slower movements and difficulty in standing up.

Changing of direction is difficult, and done with numerous slow steps. The patients present a closed expression, like a mask, without signs of emotion, and their voice is monotonic due to a lack of control over the facial muscles.

Other symptoms include speech-related problems, depression, anxiety, insomnia, loss of the sense of smell, and learning disabilities. The disease can be diagnosed after several medical examinations.

Is it genetic?

A few cases of Parkinson’s syndrome are also genetic. There are around eight genes that are recognised and related to the disease.

Is there any treatment?

Parkinson's Disease is incurable, but medical treatment usually reduces the symptoms and tends to arrest the progress of the disease.

Pharmacological therapy helps re-establish the dopamine levels in the brain, and is initiated as soon as a patient reports a change in his quality of life due to symptoms attributed to Parkinson's disease.

Surgery can also help the patient along with external stimulation, with help from the doctor and neuropsychologist, through weekly brain rehabilitation.