Parkinson's Disease

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James Parkinson first discovered Parkinson's Disease in 1817. Parkinson's Disease is a common neurologic disorder for the elderly. It is a disorder of the brain characterized by shaking and difficulty with walking, movement, and coordination. This disease is associated with damage to a part of the brain that controls muscle movement. Parkinson's Disease is a chronic illness that is still being extensively studied. Parkinson's Disease has caused problems for many people in this world and plagued the elderly all over the world.

Parkinson's disease still puzzles doctors and the causes are unknown. It is known that it is a non-communicable disease and may even be hereditary. Parkinson's disease is thought to be caused by external factors. Most of the cases of this disease are caused by progressive deterioration of the nerve cells, which control muscle movement. Dopamine, one of the substances used in the brain to transmit impulses, is produced in the area of deterioration. Without this vital dopamine nerve cells cannot properly transmit messages resulting in a loss of muscle function.

Parkinson's Disease is a non-communicable disease and doctors have not yet found out whether or not it is a hereditary disease.

Parkinson's Disease has many distinct symptoms. The symptoms are:
- Muscle Rigidity
- stiffness
- difficulty bending arms or legs
- unstable, stooped, or slumped-over posture
- loss of balance
- walking pattern changes
- slow movements
- difficulty beginning to walk
- difficulty initiating any voluntary movement
- small steps followed by the need to run to maintain balance
- freezing of movement when the movement is stopped, inability to resume - movement
- muscle aches and pains
- shaking, tremors (varying degrees, may not be present)
- characteristically occur at rest, may occur at any time
- may become severe enough to interfere with activities
- may be worse when tired, excited, or stressed
- finger-thumb rubbing (pill-rolling tremors) may be present
- changes in facial expression
- reduced ability to show facial expressions
- "mask" appearance to face
- staring
- may be unable to close mouth
- reduced rate of blinking
- voice/speech changes
- slow speech
- low-volume voice
- monotone
- difficulty speaking
- loss of fine motor skills
- difficulty writing, may be small and illegible
- difficulty eating
- difficulty with any activity that requires small movements
- movement, uncontrolled- slow
- frequent falls
- decline in intellectual function (may occur, can be severe)
- a variety of gastrointestinal symptoms, mainly constipation

In order to diagnose whether or not a person has Parkinson's Disease based on the symptoms a physical examination can be preformed. Symptoms are often hard for a doctor to assess, especially in the elderly because many of the symptoms show up in other common diseases such as osteoporosis and aging itself.

The effects of Parkinson's Disease are often devastating. If not treated the disease can progress into causing total disability, and deterioration of all brain functions. As a treatment medication can be prescribed to help postpone the effects to come. Also the medications can give relief to the symptoms and control how low the symptoms will last. Severe complications can be caused by the medications such as disability, difficulty eating, difficulty performing daily activities, and injuries from falls.

Parkinson's Disease is still being studied but doctors think that antioxidants such as vitamin E and selenium can have beneficial effects.

I learned a lot of new information while I did this report. I learned that we know very little about this disease and that it has no cure. Parkinson's Disease is a devastating disease that has effect the elderly in every part of the world. This disease attacks every part of a person's mental, physical, and social health. Mentally it can lead to complete deterioration of the brain so that the effected person cannot talk or even carryout daily activities. Socially, one of the symptoms is inability to talk so obviously the effected one cannot have very goods social health. Physically Parkinson's Disease can lead to complete disability or even death. IT is terrible to think that we know so little about such a devastating disease, hopefully new advances will be made to help improve the welfare of the infected people.