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Parkinson's Disease

Sep 3, 2008
Parkinson's disease is a degenerative disorder that affects the central nervous system and impairs the motor skills, speech, and other functions of the patient. It is classified in a group of disorders called movement disorders. Parkinson's disease is formed by an insufficient amount of dopamine in the body. Symptoms of Parkinson's disease are a high level of cognitive dysfunction and subtle language problems. Parkinson's disease can be both chronic and progressive. The disease is named after physician James Parkinson, an Englishman, who wrote an essay on the disease called "An Essay on the Shaking Palsy" in 1817.

Other symptoms of Parkinson's disease are tremors, rigidity (which is stiffness), an absence of movement, and the failure of reflexes. Some motor symptoms are shuffling instead of walking normal, turning the entire body at once instead of only the head, a bent over posture and muscle contractions.

Patients suffering from Parkinson's disease can have a slow reaction time, can have trouble with impulse control, development of dementia, short term memory loss and speech problems. Patients might also suffer from insomnia, impaired vision, dizziness, loss of smell, urinary incontinence and pain in their muscles, joints and tendons.

Causes of Parkinson's disease can be genetic, as a result of head trauma, drug-induced, and certain toxins too. Other times there are no known causes of Parkinson's disease in patients.

As of 2008 there is no cure for Parkinson's disease but there are surgeries and medications that can provide relief from the pain and suffering associated with the disease. One form of treatment is surgery and deep brain stimulation. Deep brain stimulation involved a tool called a brain pacemaker that is placed into the brain. This brain pacemaker sends electrical impulses to specific areas of the brain which provides therapeutic relief to pain for Parkinson's patients. This treatment for Parkinson's disease was approved for use nationwide by the Food and Drug Administration in 2002. It was approved for use with tremors in 1997.

Parkinson's disease is not considered a fatal disease but can lead to death further down the road. Obviously, as with any disease, Parkinson's disease lowers the life expectancy of its patients. In latter stages of the disease, Parkinson's may cause choking, pneumonia, and even falls, all of which can cause death.

Many of the cases of Parkinson's disease can take up to 20 years to progress. There are some cases though where the stages of the disease progress rather quickly and there is no way to determine who slow or fast the disease will progress. With the appropriate treatment, patients with Parkinson' disease can live comfortable, productive lives for many years following their diagnosis.

There have been thousands of cases of Parkinson' disease diagnosed over the years but there have been some notable cases as well. They include actor Michael J. Fox, Pope John Paul II, artist Salvador Dali, former United States Attorney General Janet Reno and evangelist Billy Graham. Parkinson's disease is an incurable but treatable disease once diagnosed and patients of Parkinson's can be relieved of some of their pain through the treatments available today.
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