Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease that leads to a progressive impairment of the motor function of the brain. The symptoms of this disease usually start slowly and gradually. Initially, patients might present with a tremor in the hands. This could also lead to other symptoms such as reduced movement, rigidity and so on. The patient might also develop thinking, memory, behavioral problems, depression, sleep difficulty and so on. Symptoms presented by patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease is referred to as “Parkinsonism”. The exact cause of this disease isn’t known yet, however, genetics and environmental factors have been identified to contribute hugely to this. People with family members that are affected by this disease have a high chance of developing the disease. In addition, people that constantly consume coffee, and smoke have a reduced risk of developing the disease. The deterioration of the motor function of the brain occurs as a result of the death of cells in the substantia nigra of the brain. The substantia nigra is located in the midbrain. Physicians diagnose this disease based on the symptoms presented by the patient. In addition to this, they also perform imaging tests to exclude other diseases. The magnetic resonance machine (MRI), is mostly used for this purpose. There is no cure for this disease, although treatment is given to improve the symptoms. Physicians do use a combination of medications, diet, and rehabilitation in treating the patient. Examples of antiparkinson medications used for treatment include levodopa. Surgery can also be done. In this setting, electrodes are introduced to deep stimulate the brain. Stem cells are cells that have the ability to regenerate, repair and control the immune system
What Are the Early Signs of Parkinson’s Disease?
It might be difficult knowing if a loved one, or family has Parkinson’s disease. Below are some of the signs that could indicate that the individual has the disease. Although, having just one of the symptoms does not imply that the patient has the disease. However, having more than one of the symptoms is a sign that there is a need to go see a physician for evaluation and diagnosis.
- Tremor: Patients affected by Parkinson’s disease tend to present with tremor. They may experience tremor in the fingers, hand and chin. This symptom is one of the most common initial symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. However, it’s totally normal to present with shaking after exercise, or after an injury.
- Anosmia: Anosmia is a condition in which an individual loses his/her sense of smell. Patients might have difficulty smelling food like apple, pies and so on. However, people tend to lose their sense of smell as they age. In addition, people might also lose their sense of smell due to the cold, and stuffy nose.
- Poor handwriting: Patients affected by Parkinson’s disease tend to have writings that become smaller over time. Their letters become more little, and the words are crowded together. This is referred to as micrographia. Although, writings tend to change as one age. This is because of the rigid wrist, fingers and vision.
- Insomnia: People affected by Parkinson’s disease do make sudden movements when they sleep. They act out their dreams when they are deep asleep. The partners or spouses of affected people might want to sleep somewhere else, because of the movements of the person. It’s important to know that it’s normal for people to toss and turn in bed. However, this coupled with other symptoms might be an indication to go see your physician.
- Postural imbalance: This occurs in the later phase of the disease. Patients lose his ability to maintain balance and might stumble occasionally. In addition, individuals affected by this disease might have bone fractures, due to the falls associated with their postural imbalance. However, age also plays a role in this.
- Difficulty with movement: Persons affected with Parkinson’s disease tend to have trouble with movement. Some of the early signs of this include the rigidity of the joints of the shoulder and hips.
- Gastrointestinal problems: Persons affected by this disease tend to present with constipation. It’s important to know that constipation can occur when the patient doesn’t consume enough water or eat enough fibre However, if those conditions have been excluded, and patients still present with constipation. Then further evaluation should be made.
- Masked face: This is one of the classical signs of parkinsonism. Patients would present with a moody and sad face, even when they are not in a bad mood. Some drugs can lead to this, however, if the patient isn’t taking any of such drug, and still experiences this condition, then it might just be Parkinson’s disease.
How Is Parkinson’s Disease Currently Been Treated?
Parkinson’s disease does not have a cure, however, the symptoms can be managed. This is because brain cells are not capable of regeneration. Below are some of the management procedures for the disease
- Medication: Levodopa is usually the first line drug for the treatment of this disease. This is because of the death of nerve cells in the substantia nigra of the brain. These cells are responsible for the production of dopamine. The death of these cells directly leads to the reduction of dopamine in the brain, affecting the brain and entire body function. Dopamine cannot cross the blood-brain barrier, so taking dopamine drugs will not help, however, levodopa is a precursor of dopamine and can successfully pass through the barrier, to replace the lost dopamine.
- Physiotherapy: A professional can be employed to help the patient improve his motor skills, such as walking normally, balance, and performing simple tasks such as eating, taking a bath and so on. In addition, the patient might have to take speech therapy, to correct their characteristic slurred speech.
- Brain surgical procedures: Parts of the brain can be stimulated in case medications fail to work.
Stem Cell Therapy of Parkinson’s Disease
Stem cells are cells that have the ability to regenerate, repair and control the immune system. When introduced into the body, they migrate towards the damaged part of the brain, to repair or replace the damaged cells and brain tissues. It has been proven that mesenchymal stem cells can differentiate into nerve cells. A lot of successes have been recorded in the treatment of Parkinson’s using stem cell therapy.
Malpass, K. (2011). Induced pluripotent stem cells—a new in vitro model to investigate α-synuclein dysfunction in Parkinson disease. Nature Reviews Neurology, 7(10), pp.536-536.
Olanow, C. and Schapira, A. (2013). Therapeutic prospects for Parkinson disease. Annals of Neurology, 74(3), pp.337-347.
Roybon, L., Christophersen, N., Brundin, P., and Li, J. (2004). Stem cell therapy for Parkinson?s disease: where do we stand?. Cell and Tissue Research, 318(1), pp.261-273.
Tarsy, D. (2012). Treatment of Parkinson Disease. JAMA, 307(21), p.2305.Get More Stem Cell Information at iSTEMCELL