Michael J. Fox: Battle with Parkinson's.

Topics: Parkinson's disease, Dopamine, Basal ganglia Pages: 6 (2400 words) Published: December 16, 2010
Battling for Two Decades: Michael J. Fox v.s. Parkinson's Disease
The most memorable moments in television and film history are marked by their ability to remain in the hearts and minds of society. These pieces of entertainment are generally known as the classics, for possessing some factor that appeals to the world. Often times, the classics can be easily distinguished by society's eternal use of quotes taken from film. Certain films have a phrase, a couple of words, that instantly triggers the memory of anyone who hears them. From Scarface's "Say hello to me little friends!", Dirty Harry's "you feeling lucky punk?", and even Spiderman's "With great power, comes great responsibility". To further demonstrate the effect that a single quote can have in keeping the memory of a film alive, a two word phrase can be instantly connected to the classic film. "Great Scott!" from Back to the Future, are words which when heard by most will relate them to the well known film and the actors which made it a classic. The quotes of these historic films are the tools by which society relives their greatness, but it is the actors/actresses which allow for those strong feeling to form. In the case of Back to the Future, the actor that instantly comes to find and represents the film is Michael J. Fox.

Far before the production of Back to the Future, Michael J. Fox began his life in Alberta, Canada in 1961 to William and Phyllis Fox. Fox began his acting career at the age of 15, with parts in Canadian television and roles in American movies filmed in Canada. At 18, Fox landed the role of Alex P. Keaton on the hit show Family Ties which lasted seven years and gained him Emmy awards and a golden globe. Several years later Fox acquired the role of a New York deputy mayor in the sitcom Spin City. This followed by multiple nomination ps and awards and increased his presence in the acting community. While starring in Spin City, Fox also appeared in many films including the Back to the Future trilogy. In 1988, Fox married fellow Family Ties co-star Tracey Pollan and eventually had four children. In 1998, Fox revealed that he had been diagnosed with young onset Parkinson's disease which he had known since 1991. After releasing the knowledge of his condition to the public, Fox began funding research on discovering a cure for Parkinson's disease during his lifetime.

Parkinson's disease has a history that stretches as far back as the 12th century B.C. with references to similar key symptoms but wasn't formally documented until 1817 by the British apothecary James Parkinson in The essay on the shaking palsy. The disorder was known as paralysis agitans at the time until it was given the name Parkinson's disease by Jean-Martin Charcot. Parkinson's disease is a chronic neurological motor disorder that causes degradation of a group of neurons found in the brain known as the substantia nigra. The neurons of the substantia nigra normally innervate the basal ganglia which are a grouping of nuclei that effect motor function. The substantia nigra interacts with the basal ganglia through the use of a transmitter that it produces called dopamine. Parkinson's disease acts to decrease the production of dopamine as it degrades the substantia nigra and cause motor function problems.

Parkinson's disease (PD) is characterized by four main symptoms; tremors, rigidity, bradykinesia or slowed movement, and postural instability. The tremors present as uncontrollable shaking of the jaw, face, and extremities while the rigidity affects the limbs and trunk. However, progression of the disease varies among individuals. As the disease progresses, the symptoms begin to manifest more aggressively with tremors seen in most patients. Other symptoms can include depression, difficulty swallowing, chewing, and talking, along with changes in sleep patterns. PD prominently presents itself in patients over the age of 60, but can be seen in patients as early as the age of 20. A...
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