Parkinson’s disease is a medical condition that affects the neural cells. Essentially, this disease reduces the ability of the brain to produce dopamine. It’s a chronic degenerative disorder that affects the nerve cells of the central nervous system. It essentially affects the nerves that control the motor system of the body. Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disease, that starts with mild symptoms, then progresses to more severe symptoms. Some of the early symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are difficulty with walking, due to muscle rigidity, trembling and so on. Other symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease are depression, emotional instability, and abnormal sleep cycle. These symptoms tend to change over time. The cause is still unknown, however, researchers believe it’s a combination of both genetic and some environmental factors. Other factors that increase the risk of having this disease are previous injuries to the head, which is common to boxers. An example of a boxer that had Parkinson’s disease was the great Mohammed Ali. He battled with the disease for the latter part of his life. Stem cells are cells that have the ability to regenerate, repair and control the immune system. It has been proven that mesenchymal stem cells have the ability to develop into nerve cells. Exosomes, also known as signaling cells are also effective in the management of this disease.
Signs And Symptoms Of Parkison’s Disease
This disease affects the motor system of the nervous system, so the movement of the person involved is generally impaired, along with other symptoms such as cognition, sleep, and the general mental state.
The main symptoms associated with the motor system include body trembling, muscle stiffness, postural imbalance and reduced the pace of movement. The earliest and commonest sign is that the hand of the individual undergoes tremor, especially when at rest, and stops whenever the patient moves voluntarily. This hand tremor usually starts with one hand but might progress to the two hands, much later.
- Reduced rate of movement: This happens to everyone suffering from Parkinson’s disease. Patients find it difficult to initiate and maintain a normal movement. This slowed movement affects and incapacitates the people affected by this disease. They find it difficult performing simple tasks such as feeding, wearing their shirt, polishing their shoes and so on.
- Muscle rigidity: This is due to the increased tonicity of the muscles. The muscles undergo serious contractions. Muscle rigidity when combined with the tremor is what is responsible for the cogwheel rigidity common in Parkinson’s disease patients. They may also complain of joint pain. These symptoms might initially be asymmetrical but migrate to another part of the body as the disease progresses, rendering the patient incapacitated.
- 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. It has been observed that postural imbalance occurs less in young people, but more rampant in old people, who hitherto, already have weak bones
Other symptoms associated with the motor system disorder include abnormal gait, bad handwriting due to hand tremor, and slurred speech
Parkinson’s disease affects the brain function, which includes the way people behave, their mood, how they process their thoughts and cognition.
The cognitive problems happen most times during the initial stage of the disease. Examples of the problems are the inability to think straight, lack of flexibility in thinking and so on. Also, persons affected with the disease have memory problems such as dementia. However, this is more predominant among older people that have the disease. In addition to this, persons suffering from the disease do have some mood alterations, such as depression and anxiety. More of half of the recorded cases have also shown signs of hallucinations and paranoia.
Other symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease are insomnia and drowsiness. Some patients have also been reported to act out of their dreams. They sometimes go as far as physically hurting whomever they are sharing their bed with. This usually occurs before signs and symptoms of the motor system disorder.
Causes Of Parkinson’s Disease?
The cause of Parkinson’s disease is still unknown, however, researchers believe it’s largely caused by a combination of both genetic and some environmental factors
Genetic factors: It is believed that Parkinson’s disease is caused by an interplay of both genetics and environmental factors. According to statistics, about fifteen percent of persons that has this disease usually do have a relative that has suffered from the disease or still suffering from the disease. It has been suggested that those that do not have a relative suffering from the disease, might have undergone some sort of mutation. In addition to this, studies have shown that Parkinson’s disease may be as a result of some lysosomal dysfunction.
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 the stem cell therapy.
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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.2305Get More Stem Cell Information at iSTEMCELL