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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Research | What is Parkinson's Disease?

I have many questions...

1. Early signs of Parkinson disease included smaller handwriting, a soft voice, reduced facial expression, slowness of movement, tremor, and changes in walking (shuffling) and posture (stooping). Not all Parkinson's patients have all of these symptoms. To be diagnosed with Parkinson disease, a person needs to exhibit at least two of the four "cardinal" symptoms, which are tremor, bradykinesia (slowed movement), rigidity, and postural instability. In order to be diagnosed you must have bradykinesia.
  • Tremor: shaking of a hand, arm, foot, leg, chin or lips. In Parkinson disease this happens while the limb is at rest, but sometimes happens also with movement.
  • Bradykinesia: Unusually slow movement of the limbs or entire body.
  • Rigidity: Stiffness of the muscles in the hand, arm, foot, leg or the trunk and neck. People may experience righty as muslce tightness, but they may also experience it as painful, cramp like sensation in the muscles or as muscle spasms. Sometimes an achy, died feeling may be the only indication of rigidity, and often, in the earliest stages, rigidity may be misdiagnosed as having a pinched nerve in their neck or lower back. 
  • Postural Instability: Wobbly or unbalanced standing or walking. *People living with Parkinson disease sometimes fall as a result of orthostatic hypotension (also called postural hypotension). This medical term means that on arising, a person's blood pressure drops precipitously. Parkinson disease affects the autonomic nervous system, which is the party of the nervous system hat controls functions of our body that are not under voluntary control, such as stomach and intestinal motility, beating of the heart and production of sweat and saliva. The autonomic nervous system is also in charge of making sure our blood pressure remains stable when we stand up from a reclining or sitting position.
This list of four symptoms does not by any means describe the whole spectrum of motor symptoms of Parkinson disease. Many patients may have other motor symptoms not explained by these such as dystonia or dyskinesia, which are erratic, involuntary movements of the arm, leg, trunk or face muscles. 

patient note: I do notice that I have slower movement in my left hand and when pinching my fingers together the movement becomes slower over time. I also believe I have rigidity.

2. What is Parkinson's? Parkinson's is a neurodegnerative disorder that causes the dopamine producing neurons of the substantial nigra to die prematurely and the result is loss of smooth, full-range motion.

3. Patient Note: Am I going to have dementia? I'm suffering from memory loss and trouble continuing my thought process... which is the cognitive function called executive function of the brain that includes the ability to make decisions, solve problems and multitask. A big part of the executive function is working more and loses the ability to maintain important information in the brain while engaged in complex tasks.

For example, a healthy person is usually able to cook and read a recipe at the same time. While reading the next step in a complex recipe, the cook can remember to stir the vegetables that are gently sautéing in the pan. However, a person with Parkinson disease may have trouble juggling two tasks because of lapse in working memory.

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