Parkinson’s disease, also known as idiopathic or primary Parkinsonism, hypokinetic rigid syndrome/HRS, or paralysis agitans is a problem in the nerve cells. According to the Parkinson’s disease Foundation the nerve cells start to break down and die, which leads to the loss of neurons that produce a chemical messenger in the brain called dopamine. When the dopamine is gone it causes abnormal brain activity, which leads to Parkinson’s. Dopamine sends signals to the part of the brain that controls movement. It lets your muscles move smoothly and do what you want them to do. When you have Parkinson’s, these nerve cells break down causing an individual to have trouble moving the way they want to. Doctors haven’t officially found out the cause, but they believe the disease is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. While they believe that genes could be a small factor to the cause of the disease, they also think there are some environmental triggers such as exposure to a toxin or injury. More research still needs to be done in order to determine the cause of this disease. Parkinson’s is a chronic and slowly progressive disease. The symptoms continue and worsen over a period of years and the progression varies with each individual. Movement symptoms vary from person to person as well as the rate at which they progress. Some of the symptoms are more bothersome at different times of the day depending on what the person normally does during the day. The major symptoms of Parkinson’s include muscle stiffness or rigidity; tremors; bradykinesia, or the slowing down of movement and the gradual loss of spontaneous movement; changes in walking pattern and posture; changes in speech and handwriting; and loss of balance and increased falls. Diagnosing Parkinson’s is very difficult due to the fact that early symptoms may be difficult to assess and may mimic other disorders. An example of this is that a tremor may not be as apparent when a person is at rest, or posture changes may be diagnosed as osteoporosis or simply a sign of aging. Due to the fact that there are no blood or laboratory tests to diagnose the disease, a physician may need to observe a patient over time to recognize signs of the symptoms. Some imaging tests or scans may be used in order to rule out other disorders with similar symptoms. The physician will also conduct a comprehensive history of the patient including their activity, medications, other medical problems and any exposure to toxic chemicals. A rigorous physical examination includes a concentration on the patient’s brain functions and nervous system. Tests include the patient’s reflexes, coordination, muscle strength and mental function. Because diagnosis of Parkinson’s can be so difficult it is important that the physician be experienced in evaluating and diagnosing patients with Parkinson’s disease. Early detection and treatment decisions can have a profound effect on the long-term success of the treatment. One of the most common symptoms of Parkinson’s is a tremor, or shaking that begins on one side of the body. In many cases the tremor may be confined to only one part of the body such as the hand or foot, however it may spread as the disease progresses and can worsen with stress. Another common symptom is bradykinesia, a generalized slowness of movement. This causes common activities, such as bathing or dressing, to take a longer time to complete than normal. Additional symptoms of Parkinson’s include balance and coordination problems which cause patients to develop a forward or backward lean which makes them more likely to fall when bumped. A stooped posture may also develop where the head is bowed and shoulders are slumped. Other symptoms can include decreased facial expressions; speech changes; handwriting changes; urinary problems; constipation; skin problems and...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document