Parkinson's Disease By: Zoe Oliphint

What does Parkinson's Do?

Parkinson's patients first experience non-motor symptoms, or symptoms relating to the mind and its function. Some of these symptoms include depression, trouble with memory, misplacing of objects, and confusion. In later stages, these symptoms go from relatively mild to extremely severe. Some Parkinson's patients aren't able to function and think properly without assistance from others.

Motor symptoms arise after non-motor symptoms. Parkinson's patients may experience muscle spasms and involuntary limb movements. As time progresses, usually ten to twenty years, both motor and non-motor symptoms become more destructive and detrimental to a person's ability to live their life.

What causes Parkinson's?

The area of the brain where the Dopamine deficiency is focused.

Parkinson's Disease is caused by a deficiency in Dopamine production in the brain. This deficiency is focused on the area of the brain called the Substantia Nigra that is thought to control some aspects of movement. That is why Parkinson's patients experience issues in their movement and muscle spasms.


Ancient Egyptian pyramid.

Parkinson's or Parkinson's-like ailments have been mentioned in many ancient texts. These texts include Sanskrit writings dating back to 2500 B.C., the first Chinese medical textbook, Huangdi Neijing, dating back to 300 B.C., an Ancient Egyptian papyrus mentioning a king with stiff, tremor-like fits of muscle spasm, and a work by inventor-scientist-artist Leonardo Da Vinci on the "Shaking Palsy". In Da Vinci's study, he wrote as a description, “nerves sometimes operate by themselves without any command from other functioning parts or the soul.” The first formal recognition and study of Parkinson's was in 1817 in James Parkinson's An Essay on the Shaking Palsy. James Parkinson's research was so perceptive and accurate for its time, physicians today still refer to it for notes and statistics. Hence the name Parkinson's Disease.


Medicines used to treat Parkinson's Disease are designed to lessen the impact of the symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. The most commonly prescribed drug is called Levodopa. Levodopa is a Dopamine precursor, meaning that after the drug crosses the blood-brain barrier, it transforms itself into an artificial type of Dopamine. Levodopa works for most patients for about 10-20 years before the body begins to reject the treatment. Unfortunately, drugs like Levodopa are very expensive, ranging in the $1,000 to $6,000 area, making them inaccessible to a lot of people.

Other treatments.

Thankfully, there are alternative methods of relief for Parkinson's patients. Many people participate in physical therapy in order to alleviate the stiffness in muscles and tremor-like spasms. Patients are also highly encouraged to participate in "brain-training" games. These brain stimulating games have been proven to improve memory and general cognitive function. Surgery is also an option. The most common form of surgery is called Deep Brain Stimulation, or DBS. DBS consists of opening the skull via a hole drilled through the bone and insertion of an electrode into the portion of the brain that needs to be stimulated. An electric wire connecting to the electrode is run under the skin and attached to a control box on the patient's chest. The patient can then press a button and send an electrical pulse to their brain to stimulate the neurotransmitters there.


Picture on slide 2, What causes Parkinson's? "Function and Location of Substantia Nigra." Healthy Life Here, n.d. Web. 4 May 2017.


Created with images by ferobanjo - "wheelchair lonely physical" • garnoteldelphine - "egypt africa pyramid" • stevepb - "thermometer headache pain" • honka13 - "dumbbell weights exercise"

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