What is Parkinson’s Disease?

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arkinson’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that impacts dopamine-producing neurons in the substantia nigra, part of the midbrain. Symptoms often develop very slowly over a period of years or decades and are not always noticeable at first.

As the disease progresses, patients experience problems with movement. Though tremors are the characteristic symptom of Parkinson’s, it can cause stiffness or slowed movement. These symptoms may be more noticeable on one side of the body than the other.

Over time, damage to the midbrain continues and symptoms tend to get worse. People with advanced Parkinson’s disease may suffer changes in their gait and have difficulty walking.

What Causes Parkinson’s Disease?

The precise cause of Parkinson’s disease is not yet known. Although it is not fatal by itself, the symptoms can seriously impact quality of life. Likewise, some complications leave a patient at greater risk of injury or other health issues.

In addition to dopamine-producing nerve cells, people with Parkinson’s lose nerve endings responsible for producing norepinephrine, which regulates the autonomic nervous system. This leads to disruption in automatic functions like heart rate and blood pressure.

Current Parkinson’s research focuses on the presence of Lewy bodies in patients’ brain cells. These unusual clumps of protein may be related to certain genetic mutations.

Parkinson’s clinical trials attract more participants than many other chronic diseases. Millions of dollars have been donated to study it. A variety of new clinical resources for Parkinson’s are in advanced stages of development.

How is Parkinson’s Disease Diagnosed?

No one test can diagnose Parkinson’s disease. It’s essential to see a neurologist who can conduct a variety of tests evaluating the health of the whole nervous system.

When it is unclear whether symptoms support a Parkinson’s diagnosis, a specialized single-photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT) scan is used. Blood tests are also used to rule out other potential explanations for symptoms. Diagnosis may take several months.

In many cases, doctors will prescribe a short-term course of treatment with Parkinson’s disease medication. Patients who experience symptom relief after treatment can confirm their diagnosis.

How is Parkinson’s Disease Treated or Cured?

Although no treatment restores damaged neurons, medications can moderate the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. The most common, a combination medication called carbidopa-levodopa in its generic form, works directly on the dopamine supply in the brain.

While the levodopa converts into dopamine in the brain, the carbidopa prevents it from breaking down and allows more of it to be converted. This supports the brain’s natural absorption and use of dopamine, which improves voluntary control of body movement.

Several other medications may be used, either long-term or in the disease’s later stages.

A surgical procedure called deep brain stimulation helps some patients as Parkinson’s gets more severe. In this procedure, electrodes are implanted into the brain. A doctor can fine-tune the electrical signals sent by these devices to reduce day to day symptoms.

Parkinson’s Disease Lifestyle Changes

Some lifestyle changes can help patients maintain quality of life and manage symptoms. Many doctors recommend Parkinson’s patients undertake ongoing aerobic exercise.

Stretching can improve balance and coordination, making falls less likely. For those who experience speech issues, therapy with a speech language pathologist can maintain abilities.

Patients should become familiar with common mobility aids and consider changes to make the home environment safer, such as grab bars in the tub to reduce the risk of falling.

Parkinson’s Disease Clinical Trials

The following clinical trial are the recent offered by Clinicaltrials.gov. If you would like us to showcase any further trials, please contact our team.