Parkinson’s is a neurological disease that affects movements of the body. It usually develops gradually. People who suffer from Parkinson’s disease may initially notice a slight tremor in the hand at first. These tremors can ultimately develop into uncontrolled shaking of the body.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, over 500,000 people in the United States currently suffer from this central nervous system disorder, and the treatment costs exceed $6 billion a year.
This debilitating problem clearly affects a lot of people, and research has also indicated that the disease is on the rise. While there is no known cure for
Parkinson’s disease at this time, family members need to stay informed on treatment options and also need to be able to cope with the various symptoms and stages of this disease.
Symptoms of Parkinson’s occur gradually at first. Friends and family members are often the first to notice symptoms. While symptoms can vary per person, the following signs are typically associated with Parkinson’s disease:
Most people with Parkinson’s suffer from tight and tense muscles. Range of motion can be a problem and often results in pain. Sometimes, just moving an arm or leg can be excruciating pain for Parkinson’s sufferers.
People with Parkinson’s often lose balance and are prone to falling. Some people also develop a stooped over posture.
Tremors often start in the hand with a back-and-forth rubbing motion of the thumb and forefinger. This movement is known as “pill rolling” and is a frequent characteristic of Parkinson’s.
Tremors in other parts of the body are also common. These tremors often disappear during sleep.
People with Parkinson’s disease often eventually have a difficult time performing routine movements. For example, the simple act of dressing can take a considerable amount of time.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, about half the people affected with Parkinson’s develop problems with speech. These people will usually slur and repeat words and often speak rapidly.
Some people will develop memory problems and will have issues with reasoning and other mental skills. In the later stages of the disease, they may also develop dementia.
Along with the above symptoms, Parkinson’s victims also suffer from fatigue, pain, muscle cramps, skin problems and often have trouble sleeping.
Causes of Parkinson’s
According to the Mayo Clinic, research has indicated that genes may play a role in developing Parkinson’s disease. Along with inheriting the disease, research has revealed that certain chemical conditions in the brain may also be responsible for contributing to its cause.
The Mayo Clinic also states that men are more likely to develop the disease than women. In addition, people that are exposed to toxins such as pesticides are also at an elevated risk of Parkinson’s disease.
Treating this challenging disease often requires a multidisciplinary approach. A well-roundedtreatment plan for Parkinson’s disease will typically include medications, brain stimulation, physical therapy, lifestyle changes and family support.
Medications can sometimes provide relief of symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease. Since people with Parkinson’s often lack dopamine, the goal of some of these medications is to increase the dopamine levels in the brain. Increased dopamine levels can help the patient to move better.
Another category of medications prescribed to Parkinson’s patients affects the neurotransmitters in the body. These drugs often help to ease tremors and muscle stiffness for Parkinson’s victims.
Along with the aforementioned categories of medications, there are a wide variety of other drugs that are prescribed to treat the multitude of symptoms associated with the disease.
This treatment involves electrodes that are surgically implanted onto the brain. The electrodes are connected by wire to a device implanted in the chest. The purpose of this device is to stimulate the brain to control some of the symptoms of the disease.
Brain stimulation has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and this treatment option is gaining popularity due to recent favorable outcomes.
The goal of exercise and physical therapy for Parkinson’s patients is to increase mobility, range of motion and help maintain muscle function. Physical therapists often help Parkinson’s patients walk and work to improve their balance.
A balanced diet helps to alleviate some of the symptoms of the disease. As part of the multifaceted treatment plan, many Parkinson’s patients are encouraged to eat a diet rich in fiber, and to drink plenty of water. This will help with the common problem of constipation that is often associated with Parkinson’s patients.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke also advised that a clinical trial involving the supplement coenzyme Q 10 has also had some favorable outcomes in slowing down the progression of Parkinson’s. Additional research involving this supplement and others, to include caffeine is ongoing.
Living with Parkinson’s Disease can be an enormous task for victims and their families. Family members can benefit from investigating frequently used coping and treatment methods.
The National Parkinson’s Foundation is an excellent resource to find support groups and talk to people that may be going through some of the same difficulties that your family is facing with this disease.