Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a common neurodegererative disorder that affects the motor skills of a person including their speech. PD was first documented by the English medical practitioner, James Parkinson, who discussed the condition in his famous “Essay on the Shaking Palsy” (Stewart and Weiner 3). Unlike other neurological illnesses disorders that show prevalence for some ethnic groups or sexes, Parkinson’s disease affects people of all ethnic background. However, the disease is closely linked to aging since most cases are diagnosed between the ages of 50 and 60 years. The World Health Organization notes that PD is chronic and progressive and at present, an incurable condition. Despite PD being chronic, the disease is not fatal although it is known to adversely impair the quality of life of the sufferer therefore reducing their longevity. Since only a few causes of Parkinson’s disease are know, the disease is classified as idiopathic, a metical term that means “of unknown cause” (Rosenbaum 9)
Symptoms of the Disease
Parkinson’s Disease is primarily characterized by rhythmic tremor of the limbs and hence the first terming of the disease as the “shaking palsy”. PD also results in a stooped posture to the patient as well as slowness in executing voluntary movements. Communication is also greatly impaired by the masklike facial expression that arises as a result of PD. The motor related symptoms of PD have been discovered to be as a result of the degeneration of nerve cells in a part of the mid brain. Ronken and Scharrenburg illustrate that apart from this key motor related symptoms, the disease also has depression as a major secondary symptom (3). A study by the author indicates that 50% of the population that suffers from PD is also exposed to depression therefore leading to an even more reduction in the quality of life that they experience.
As has been suggested, PD shows prevalence for the 50 to 60 age group; a patient’s age and clinical history is therefore used in the diagnosis process. Diagnosis of PD mostly hinges on the presence of its core symptoms of motor skills inhabitation. However, the presence of these symptoms may not be a positive indication of PD. As such, the diagnosis process also involves performing an elimination of other possible causes of motor skills control degeneration such as strokes and brain tumors. However, there is no confirmatory diagnostic test of PD at presence. Stewart and Weiner indicate that at present, neuroimaging can be used to look for markers of disease progression in PD (52).
Cures or Treatments for the disease
At the present, there are no known cures or treatment for Parkinson’s disease. Ronken and Scharrenburg note that all current therapy is based on reducing the symptoms of PD so as to lead to an improvement of the quality of life for the patient. One of the most widely used treatments is dopa treatment which aims at activating dopamine in the brain of the patient (Rosenbaum 98). One of the pharmaceutical drugs commonly available is Levodopa, a drug that turns into dopamine on interacting with enzymes in the human brain. This drug leads to the activation of dopamine receptors in the brain leading to the resumption of normal functioning by the movement control faculties of the brain. One of the side effects associated with PD treatment is Dyskinesias which is the medical term for “excessive movements” which contrast with the slow movements that are characteristic of Parkinson’s disease (Rosenbaum 99). Patients therefore need to be under close supervision by their doctors while taking these treatments for Parkinson’s disease.
Ronken, E and Scharrenburg, J. Parkinson’s disease. IOS Press, 2002.
Rosenbaum, Richard. Understanding Parkinson’s Disease: a Personal and Professional View. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2006.
Steward, Factor and Weiner, William. Parkinson’s Disease: Diagnosis and Clinical Management. Demos Medical Publishing, 2008.
World Health Organization. Parkinson’s Disease – A Unique Survey Launched. 1998. Web.