Parkinson's Disease: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

Pages: 7 (2487 words) Published: December 15, 2010
Parkinson's disease (PD) is a progressive degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that affects more than 1.5 million people in the United States alone. This disease is characterized by a decrease in spontaneous movements, walking difficulty, postural unsteadiness, rigidity and tremor. “The major symptoms of the disease were originally described in 1817 by an English physician, Dr. James Parkinson, who called it ‘Shaking Palsy’ (Peppe, Gasbarra, Stefani, Chiavalon, Pierantozzi, Femi, Stanzione, 2010). Men and women are equally affected by this disease and the occurrence of the disease is considerably higher in people over the age of 60, even though there is an alarming increase of cases of Parkinson’s in people of a younger age. In light of the increased life expectancy in this country and worldwide, an increasing number of people will be victims of Parkinson's disease. The higher life expectancy is probably a major factor in the lowered age of Parkinson’s patients. There are no known immediate cures for this disease; however, there are pharmacological treatments and surgical treatments for the inhibiting symptoms in PD. Deep brain stimulation is one major surgical treatment available to all patients suffering a severe form of PD. Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a surgical procedure used to treat a variety of disabling neurological symptoms. On use of this procedure is used to inhibit the debilitating symptoms of PD, such as tremor, rigidity, stiffness, slowed movement, and walking problems. At present, the procedure is used only for patients whose symptoms cannot be adequately controlled with medications (Kelly, Derome, Guit, 1978). Deep brain stimulation is an amazing procedure that shows a lot of promise in the neuroscience field. The purpose of this paper in to look into the details of Parkinson’s, mainly the symptoms and how and where the brain is affected, and also the effectiveness of deep brain stimulation in Parkinson’s patients and the variety of ways it reduces, or even cures, many symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

Causes of Parkinson’s Disease:
Although there are no known immediate causes of Parkinson’s disease there are certain risk factors that may influence the onset of this disease. The biggest risk factor know to influence parkinson’s is advancing age. This is a disease known to affect people over the age of 60. For example, people over age 60 have a two-to-four percent risk of developing Parkinson's disease, compared with the one-to-two percent risk in the general population (“What causes”, 2010). Genetic and environmental exposures are currently at the forefront of investigation for the main causes of PD. Studies that deal with incidence, distribution and control of PD have demonstrated that people with an affected relative, such as a parent or sibling, have a two-to-three fold increased risk of developing PD compared to someone who does not have n immediate relative with PD (Benabid, Koudsie, Bennazzouz, Fraix, Ashraf, Le Bas, Chabardes, 1999). Scientists have identified 13 genes that are associated with PD that can influence the onset of the disease. The genes identified to date include: PARK1, DJ-1 (PARK7), Pink1 (Park6), dardarin (DRDN), Tau, lrrk2, parkin, uchl-1, park3, park9, park10, park11 (Ascone, Pazo, Macadar, Bruno, 2002). Although genetics play a role in only a small number of PD cases, they are currently the subject of intense research. The genetic risk factor is being intensely studied presently because these forms can be examined in great detail in the laboratory, and because understanding the rare genetic forms of PD may help to understand more common forms of the disease. Along with genetic factors, environmental factors, such as a toxin or injury, have also been suggested to result in PD. There is no conclusive evidence that any environmental exposure alone can be the cause of PD, just influence other factors within the body. To date, epidemiological...
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