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What is Parkinson's Disease?

Parkinson's disease is a disorder of the brain characterized by shaking and difficulty with walking, movement, and coordination. Parkinson's disease is associated with damage to a part of the brain that controls muscle movement. Parkinson's disease may affect one or both sides of the body, with varying degrees of loss of function. Parkinson's may also impair speech. Parkinson's was first described in England in 1817 by James Parkinson.

Parkinson's is progressively degenerative, until the patient has difficulty in dressing, shaving, bathing, writing, getting in and out of the car, and even eating. When Parkinson's affects the throat and neck muscles, the patient is in danger of malnutrition.

Parkinson's disease is also called paralysis agitans and shaking palsy.

Symptoms of Parkinson's Disease

There are many symptoms of Parkinson's disease and every individual will not experience all of them.

The most common symptoms of Parkinson's disease include:

  • muscle rigidity, stiffness, difficulty bending arms or legs, unstable, stooped, or slumped-over posture,
  • loss of balance, changes in their walking pattern, shuffling walk, slow movements, difficulty beginning to walk, difficulty initiating any voluntary movement, small steps followed by the need to run to maintain balance
  • freezing of movement when the movement is stopped, inability to resume - movement muscle aches and pains (myalgia), shaking, tremors, changes in facial expression reduced ability to show facial expressions, may be unable to close mouth,
  • reduced rate of blinking, voice/speech changes, slow speech, difficulty speaking loss of fine motor skills,difficulty writing, may be small and illegible, difficulty eating.

What Causes Parkinson's Disease?

Parkinson's disease is caused by the progressive deterioration of the nerve cells of the part of the brain that controls muscle movement. The parts of the brain that control muscle movement are the basal ganglia and the extra pyramidal area. In this condition, deterioration of this area of the brain reduces the amount of dopamine available to the body. When there is insufficient dopamine, the balance between dopamine and other transmitters, such as acetylcholine become unbalanced. Without dopamine, the nerve cells cannot properly transmit messages. When the nerve cells cannot properly transmit messages, loss of muscle function occurs.

Why do the nerve cells deteriorate?

The exact reason that the cells of the brain deteriorate is unknown. The disorder may affect one or both sides of the body, with varying degrees of loss of function.

Side Affects of Parkinson's Disease

Some people with Parkinson's disease become severely depressed. A person with severe Parkinson's may have overall mental deterioration also. Mental deterioration includes dementia and hallucinations. Dementia may also be a side effect of some of the medications used to treat the disorder.

Who gets Parkinson's?

Parkinson's disease usually occurs in adults. It is rare in children. When Parkinson's occurs in children, the cause is usually decreased sensitivity of the nerves (post-synaptic) to dopamine and not because of deterioration of the area of the brain that produces dopamine.

Manganese and Parkinson's Disease

Exposure to manganese fumes can also cause Parkinson's disease. Manganese is an element used to form many important alloys. It is used in products for construction, machinery and transportation. Manganese is also used in the steel making industry. People who are exposed to manganese fumes often experience the following symptoms:

  • fatigue
  • headache
  • speech disturbances
  • rigidity
  • muscle contractions
  • tremors
  • disorientation
  • loss of memory
  • impairment of judgment
  • abnormal gait or difficulty in walking
  • the loss of the ability to control muscular movement.

****If you believe you or a loved one has developed Parkinson's disease from exposure to manganese, you should contact an attorney immediately.

Is there a Cure for Parkinson's Disease?

Currently, there is not a cure for Parkinson's. Medication can slow progression of the disease and researchers believe some antioxidants may be beneficial also.

Parkinson's Disease Statistics

  • Parkinson's affects approximately 2 out of 1,000 people
  • Parkinson's often develops after age 50
  • Parkinson's affects both men and women and is one of the most common neurological disorders of the elderly

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