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Parkinson’s disease is basically a neurodegenerative disorder that affects the dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra area of the brain, which is essentially responsible for dopamine production. Dopamine is the chemical that is responsible for carrying messages around the brain. For example – when you feel the need to itch, it is dopamine that carries the message to the nerve cells that controls the muscles you need, to itch yourself.
The Parkinson’s disease symptoms are gradual and often get unnoticed. And as such it is essential to keep a careful watch for its symptoms that include;
There is no clarity regarding the cause of Parkinson’s disease. However, a lot of speculation is made regarding the genetic, hereditary and environmental factors involved with this disease. Some genes have been found to be linked to the disease. Although hereditary causes of the disease is quite rare, but 15% of Parkinson’s patients have been found to have a family history of it.
There are 5 stages of Parkinson’s disease that is supported by the Parkinson’s Foundation; they are as follows;
A well trained neurologist is best equipped to make diagnosis. There are no specific tests available that can diagnose Parkinson’s disease. However, doctors do order blood tests and a range of imaging tests like MRI, ultrasound of the brain, SPECT, PET scans to rule out any other disorders with similar symptoms.
Average age of Parkinson’s patients
Parkinson’s usually affects people over 60 years of age, but there have been found exceptions to this and some people have been diagnosed at the age of 40 and even younger.
What is Parkinsonism?
Parkinsonism is a blanket term given to a range of movement disorders that exhibit symptoms similar to the Parkinson’s disease. A majority of people suffering from a form of Parkinsonism have idiopathic Parkinson’s. Parkinson’s disease or Idiopathic Parkinson’s is the most common form of Parkinsonism. Idiopathic essentially means that the cause is not known for the disease.
Types of Parkinson’s disease and Parkinsonism
The different types of Parkinson’s disease and Parkinsonism are
Parkinson’s disease Treatment
There is currently no cure for Parkinson’s disease presently. However, medication, physiotherapy and in a few cases surgery might prove beneficial.
Medication: Though medications don’t cure the patient of Parkinson’s, it provides a lot of control on the symptoms of the disease, which brings much relief to the patients.
Physiotherapy for Parkinson’s disease: Physiotherapy for Parkinson’s disease forms a very important component in Parkinson’s treatment. The main idea behind offering physiotherapy to Parkinson’s patients is to address the issues of mobility, flexibility, posture and balance. Physiotherapy offers great help in the maintenance of patient’s mobility and balance, thereby offering functional independence to them. Physiotherapy exercises also help to mobilize stiff joints and provide flexibility to tight muscles. Apart from that Physiotherapy also retrains the patients to perform daily activities in a safer manner. In fact Parkinson’s disease treatment guidelines highly advise the inclusion of physiotherapy in the treatment of Parkinson’s
Surgery: Surgery is not readily advised inParkinson’s treatment, only in a few selected cases is surgery advised. Typically, when the patient has reached advanced stage of the disease and has unmanageable motor symptoms is surgery advised.
Surgery for Parkinson’s is of three types namely;
Researchers have been experimenting with stem cell therapy, where dopamine producing cells are extracted from stem cells. However, this therapy is still at a nascent stage and more research is needed for it to become of some value.
Myths about Parkinson’s:
A lot of myths and misconceptions are attached with Parkinson’s disease. Here are a few myths debunked about the disease;
People affected with Parkinson’s require physiotherapy for maintaining and strengthening physical capability and quality of movement in everyday life. During the initial sessions, our well – trained physiotherapist mainly focuses on providing education and self-management to the patient. Physiotherapy exercises helps to offset the consequences of Parkinson’s and minimize deterioration in strength, endurance, flexibility and balance. Towards the later sessions, the physiotherapist will focus on improving gait, balance, manual activities and reduce fall risk.