Parkinson’s disease is a chronic degenerative disease of the central nervous system. The disease affects the motor system. The signs and symptoms of the disease usually start slowly. Some of the common symptoms of the disease include the stiffness and reduced movement of the hand. The early symptoms of the disease also include a reduction in movement and difficulty in walking. Patients might also present with the inability to process their thoughts appropriately, behavioral problems and so on. Patients might present with dementia, at the advanced stage of the disease. Other conditions that have been associated with this disease include depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, and emotional problems. The exact cause of Parkinsonism isn’t known yet. However, some factors have been identified. These factors are genetic and environmental. Also, people with a family history of the disease have a high risk of also getting affected with it, at a point in their life. Also, the exposure to chemicals such as pesticides, previous head injuries all increases the risk of developing Parkinsonism.
On the other hand, smoking, especially tobacco, and drinking coffee or tea frequently both reduce the risk of developing the disease. Studies have shown the motor symptoms of the disease occurs because of the death of cells in the substantia nigra. This leads to the production of an insufficient amount of dopamine in the brain. The mechanism behind the death of the substantia nigra cells isn’t well understood. Physicians diagnose this condition by evaluating the signs and symptoms of the disease. Also, tests such as neuroimaging are also used to exclude other diseases. The disease has no cure yet. However, physicians do administer medications that help to improve the signs and symptoms of the disease. Some of the common medications used include L-Dopa, a dopamine agonist. Diet and rehabilitation also play important roles in the recovery of the patient. Surgery is also done in severe cases, to deep stimulate the brain. Stem cells are also effective in the treatment of this disease. Scientists are working on ways to improve this.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease?
Patients present with various signs and symptoms. Usually, the early symptoms are subtle and mind. Persons affected might not even think much of it. The symptoms of the disease are usually worse on the side it starts from. This might persist, even after the disease eventually affects the two side of the body. Below are some of the signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
- Tremor: This is the most common symptom presented by persons affected by Parkinson’s disease. This usually occurs in the extremities, such as the fingers and hand. They might also present with a pill-rolling tremor.
- Reduced movement: The disease tends to reduce the movement of the patient, as the disease progresses. This makes life difficult for the patient and would have to spend more time carrying out simple tasks. They might also find it difficult getting out of a chair.
- Stiff muscles: This might affect any part of the body. Patients might experience pain in the affected muscles, while it also reduces their range of motion.
- Altered speech: This disease also affects the way patients speak. Their voice usually becomes softer, speech slurred, and might not want to talk, because of the problems.
- Poor posture and balance: Persons affected with this disease tend to develop a poor posture. The disease also affects their balance, especially when walking.
- Dementia: This is more common in old people. Patients do present with memory problems.
- Sleep problems: Patients usually have sleep problems, such as insomnia.
What Are The Causes Of Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s disease is one in which the brain cells progressively break down or die. The main reasons why the cells break down or die isn’t fully understood yet. The cells in the substantia nigra are usually the most affected and subsequently leads to the low amount of dopamine in the brain. Some factors that contribute to the development of the disease have been identified. These are genetics and the environment.
- Genetics: Scientists have identified a certain gene mutation that leads to the development of the disease. However, this rarely occurs, except in people with a family history of Parkinson’s disease.
- Environment: The exposure to chemicals, such as pesticides, toxins increases the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.
What Are The Risk Factors Of Developing Parkinson’s Disease?
- Age: This disease rarely occurs in young people. Studies have shown that it mostly affects old people, especially those above the age of 60.
- Heredity: People with a family history of Parkinson’s disease have a high risk of developing the disease at some point in their lives.
- Gender: This disease occurs more in women than in men.
- Pollution: Exposure to toxin and chemicals such as pesticides increase the risk of developing the 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
- Rehabilitation and diet are also essential for the recovery of the patient.
Stem Cell Therapy of Parkinson’s Disease
Stem cells are cells that can 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