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Parkinson's Disease: An Overview

Friday, 17 Jun 2011 03:04 PM

Parkinson’s disease is a gradually developing nervous system disorder that wreaks havoc on the body through affecting its movements. The disease tends to creep up slowly on its victims and is characterized in its early stages by somewhat noticeable tremors that worsen with time.

Parkinson’s often also causes a slowing or freezing of bodily movements. Someone with Parkinson’s may notice that they exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Tremor, often beginning in the hand
  • Slowed motion, or bradykinesia, which hinders a person’s ability to initiate voluntary movements
  • Rigid muscles in any part of the body. This symptom is commonly first recognized when a person’s arms no longer swing while walking.
  • Impaired posture and balance
  • Loss of automatic movements like blinking and smiling
  • Speech changes such as a softer voice, more rapid speech, mumbling, slurring, or hesitating before speaking
  • Dementia may take place in the later stages of Parkinson’s.
  • Alzheimer’s medication can help to somewhat alleviate dementia.

Although the exact cause of Parkinson’s remains unknown, factors thought to play a role in the disease’s development are:

  • Genes
  • Environmental triggers like toxins and certain viruses
  • A lack of dopamine or norepinephrine levels in the brain
  • The presence of unusual protein clumps called Lewy bodies in the brain

Many quickly associate Parkinson’s disease with actor Michael J. Fox of the “Back to the Future” franchise, who started The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research after receiving his diagnosis in 1991. But did you know that former boxing champ Muhammad Ali suffers from the disease as well? He was diagnosed in 1984 at the age of 42.

See a doctor if you are experiencing any symptoms associated with Parkinson’s, as being diagnosed at an early stage may help slow the progression of the disease through medication, physical therapy, and sometimes surgery.

For more about Parkinson’s disease, see:














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