April is Parkinson's Disease Awareness Month
What do boxer Muhammad Ali, actor Michael J. Fox, singer Johnny Cash, and the Reverend Bill Graham and over one million Americans have in common? They all suffer from Parkinson's disease.
Parkinson's disease is a progressive disorder that affects the nervous system. The neurons in the brain break down or die, causing a decrease in dopamine. The loss of dopamine causes the symptoms of Parkinson's disease.
Every person's symptoms and progression is different. At first it may be a small tremor in a hand, but can progress to muscle rigidity and slowing of movement (bradykinesia). The face may show little expression, the arms stop swinging during walking, and balance is impaired. Speech may become slurred or monotone. Automatic movements, such as blinking, swallowing, and digestion, decrease. As the disease progresses, dementia may set in. Also, depression is common as sufferers struggle to come to terms with their illness.
While the exact cause of Parkinson's disease is unknown, there are several risk factors. Research has shown that specific genetic mutations may occur. There is also the possibility that there may be environmental triggers, such as herbicides and tobacco smoke. Increased age and being male also increase the chances of Parkinson's disease.
Many sufferers have found relief in medicine. The medication increases dopamine in the brain, helping the brain's neurotransmitters. Sadly, the benefits of the drug decrease over time. Surgery that implants electrodes to stimulate the brain has helped improve symptoms of those who significantly suffer.
There is a need for more research. Currently, scientists are exploring gene therapy and neural transplantation as other innovative therapies. One area of focus is the presence of Lewy bodies that clump in the brain.
Transcription Plus, LLC has seen great strides in medical innovation since our beginning 26 years ago. We would like to see the same positive progress for patients with Parkinson's disease
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