Motor System Disorders is actually an umbrella term used to cover many of the neurological diseases. Parkinson's disease is one of those disorders. For many of these disorders, the main cause of the disorder is a loss of a chemical that is produced in the brain called Dopamine. Dopamine carries messages to the part of the brain that handles body co-ordination and movement. When the dopamine supply is reduced (as in Parkinson's), the messages are reduced or eventually stop altogether which reduces the body's ability to move normally as it should do.
In general, Parkinson's disease is more frequent in people over the age of 50. But there are many cases where it has developed in people of a much younger age. Regardless of the patient's age at onset, if the disease is diagnosed while still in an early stage, and if the dopamine in the brain has not been severely depleted yet, medical treatments can usually help with decelerating the progress of the disease.
The more classic symptoms of Parkinson's disease are:
- Tremors. This is shaking of the face, jaw, and limbs.
- Rigidity or stiffness in the torso and limbs
- Slow movement
- Decrease in co-ordination and balance.
In the very early stages, these symptoms can seem minor to the point that they are ignored, missed, or overlooked. However, as the disease progresses, the symptoms become more noticeable until at some point they literally control the patient's life.
In addition to the above, other problems are also associated with Parkinson's disease:
- Depression: There are two schools of thought on depression. One is that depression may be caused by the disease itself; that it has a chemical origin associated with the disease. The other thought is that depression is caused in some patients simply because they have the disease. In other words, who would not be depressed if they had this disease? What is known is that depression is a very common symptom of Parkinson's disease.
- Problems with eating and swallowing.
- Difficulty in speaking clearly
- Constipation and urinary problems.
- Sleep disorders
- Hygiene, skin and hair problems
There is no normal set of symptoms in the progression of Parkinson's disease. Each patient is unique in this regard. Some people will progress rapidly, with their symptoms worsening over a period of months. Others may take several years to get to the same stage.
There are no concrete rules on this, but one reason for this discrepancy may be with the skill level of the treating physician. As mentioned above, many of the symptoms of this disease can go unnoticed, and therefore untreated, for a long time.
Parkinson's disease is treated by specific drugs which include:
Dosages for these drugs must be exact in order for any to work. This requires some high level of skill on the physcian prescribing the drug and the dosage. All patients are unique and their treatment regime will be unique as well.
Another reason the disease may progress faster in a certain person is that the disease itself is more aggressive in that individual.
While there is currently no cure for Parkinson's disease, thoughtful management can ensure that the majority of sufferers can enjoy a better quality of life for a long time.
By Jeremy Parker
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