Parkinson’s disease, commonly referred to simply as
“Parkinson’s,” is a movement disorder that affects the
central nervous system, impairing bodily functions.
Muscle tremors, rigidity, posture and speech abnormalities are all
visible effects of Parkinson’s. This disease is both progressive and
• The first step in the diagnostic process is a neurological exam,
performed by a physician, to determine if the individual has a
• If this is confirmed, further testing will be ordered to pinpoint
signs and symptoms connected to those manifested in
• Diagnosing Parkinson’s is difficult and at this time, there is no
test that will confirm with absolute certainty that a person has the
• The causative agents for Parkinson’s in the brain are microscopic
• EEG tests show electrical activity, but are not a reliable source;
MRI and CAT scans often appear normal in those who have
• To make a diagnosis, doctors must rely on a physical
examination, symptoms and the patient’s family history.
• Recent reports from The Parkinson’s Disease Foundation show
that Parkinson’s affects nearly 1 million people in the United
States and between 7 and 10 million people worldwide.
• Each year, nearly 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with the
disease, not including the unreported cases.
• This disease costs Americans a combined $25 billion annually
• The likelihood of developing Parkinson’s increases as people age;
about 4% of those who are diagnosed receive their diagnosis
before age 50.
• Tremor is one of the most common symptoms, usually causing
the hands to shake in a back-forth motion, including the thumbs.
• Slowing of motion is common, characterized by difficulty in
initiating movement; along with this comes loss of automatic
movements, such as smiling, walking and blinking.
• While walking, patients may notice their arms will not swing
freely as they normally would.
• Changes in speech are common; difficulty finding words and
forming them will seem similar to hesitations in speaking.
• Posture and balance are both affected in Parkinson’s.
• People often begin to stoop and may experience falls from loss of
• These symptoms come from decreased stimulation in the brain’s
motor cortex by the basal ganglia.
• Currently there is no cure for Parkinson’s, but there are several
promising treatments comprised of both physical and
• Along with exercise, occupational and physical therapy are
prescribed for those who are in the early stages.
• When symptoms begin to interfere with daily life, drug treatments
• Drugs commonly used to treat Parkinson’s are monoamine
oxidase inhibitors, amantadine and antcholinergics.
• In a later stage, the drug Levodopa is commonly prescribed.
• Some patients choose either neurotransplantation or deep brain
stimulation surgery for treatment.
• Alternative care involving exercise, a healthy diet and natural
supplements is an option for those who do not prefer traditional
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