Parkinsons disease

Parkinsons disease is one type of motor system illnesses that come as a result of dopamine-producing cells in the brain (Fischer 3). The disease can be identified in patients having tremors or highly trembling arms, hands, jaws, legs and face (Fischer 3). The trunk and limbs of people afflicted by the disease become stiff and experience a condition known as bradykinesia which is the slowness in general movement. The patients have an impaired coordination and balance also known as postural instability. As the symptoms become advanced, the patients end up having difficulty in talking, walking or even accomplishing simple tasks (Fischer 4).History Parkinsons disease has been known since the ancient times and it is known as Kampavata in the ancient Ayurveda, the ancient Indian medical system (Boelen 8). The disease was described in Western literature as shaking palsy by Galen who was a physician in 175 A.D. although Galen described the condition during the ancient times, it was not until the 1817 that James Parkinson serving as a physician in London doctor published a fully detailed essay about the condition (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke). To credit Galens work, Parkinson used in his descriptive essay the words Galen had used in 175 A.D. Parkinsons essay, An Essay on the Shaking Palsy, encouraged other researchers to study about the disease and Jean Martin Charcot , 60 years after Parkinsons, recognized the importance of the work done by Parkinson (Boelen 12). It is Charcot himself who named the condition, Parkinsons disease in honor of the work done by James Parkinson.

Despite its long history, the disease still remains a mystery and it was only in 1960 that the chemical difference in the brain between Parkinsons disease patients and normal individuals was identified It was then established that the declined levels of dopamine in the brain of Parkinsons disease patients was the cause of nerve cell degeneration in the substantia nigra which is the part of the brain (Boelen 12).. This discovery led to the very first most appropriate treatment for the disease. It can be remembered that the drug Levodopa was identified and used to treat symptoms related to Parkinsons disease. Since 1960s, there has been tremendous research about Parkinsons disease although there has been no cure for the condition. However, research has made it possible to effectively ameliorate the symptoms in patients suffering from Parkinsons disease. Major efforts in research into the disease can be attributed to the formation of the Parkinsons disease Foundation in 1957. The foundation was established in the United States to encourage research into the disease. The Michael J Fox Foundation was also incepted in 2000 and has succeeded in putting up enormous efforts to address problems facing the Parkinsons disease individuals (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke).Signs and Symptoms of Parkinsons Disease Symptoms of Parkinsons disease may include automatic movements such as blinking, constipation, drooling, swallowing difficulties, impaired walking and balance and muscle pains and aches or myalgia (MedlinePlus). The most common symptoms of Parkinsons disease are trembling of the arms, hands, legs, face and jaws, legs, arms and trunk stiffness, slowed movement and poor coordination and balance. The symptoms may get worse and individuals may experience problems walking or talking or even performing simple tasks (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke). Depression, chewing problems, sleeping disorders and difficulty in speaking and swallowing and chewing are not unusual among the Parkinsons disease patients. These patients start at the age of 60 although they may start earlier. The disease is common in men than it is in women (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke).Causes of Parkinsons disease Parkinsons disease occur when the cells in the substantia nigra, a part of the brain, are impaired (MedlinePlus). The nerve cells in this area are responsible in the production of dopamine, a type chemical messenger which transmits signals between the substantia nigra and the adjacent area of the brain, the corpus striatum (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke). This communication produces a purposeful smooth movement. The loss of dopamine therefore leads to abnormal firing patterns in the nerve cells. Several genetic mutations have been identified among Parkinsons disease patients and both the sporadic and inherited factors have been identified (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke). Environmental toxins have a potential of altering the genes and protein functions similar to the inherited factors, genes. The environment has also been blamed to be responsible for Parkinsons disease. Toxins such as 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1, 2, 3, 6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) which is mainly found in synthetic heroin has a potential of causing the condition (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke). Viruses have also been implicated in the triggering of the condition.

Diagnosis Diagnosis of Parkinsons disease is based mainly on taking neurological examinations and medical history of the patient (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke). Doctors may require observing patients for some time to ascertain that the symptoms are confirmed in the patient. Laboratory tests and brain scans may be requested by doctors so that they are able to rule out some of the diseases related to Parkinsons disease.Prognosis

Although Parkinsons disease is not fatal by itself, it however gets worse with time. The patients can however live with the condition for along time although advanced stages of the disease may lead to choking, falls and pneumonia (MedlinePlus). The progression of Parkinsons disease symptoms may take even more than 20 years while in other people, the disease may progress faster. The Hoehn and Yahr scale is used to describe the progression of the disease.Treatment

Treatment of Parkinsons disease can either be done by medication or surgery (MedlinePlus). Medical interventions take three approaches drugs to increase dopamine production such as levodopa drugs to affect neurotransmitters so as to ameliorate symptoms such as anticholinergic agents which reduce muscles stiffness and tremors and drugs, which control the non-motor symptoms of Parkinsons disease such as the antidepressants (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke). Surgical operations in Parkinsons disease can be done by thalamotomy and pallidotomy to destroy the globus pallidus and the thalamus. Deep brain stimulations (DBS) is also applied form of surgery which can relive symptoms of Parkinsons disease.

The study and detailed inquiry into Parkinsons disease has gained much attention in the recent past. This has mainly been due to a challenge that has been posed to medical researchers and scientist in failing to find the appropriate treatment of a disease that was mentioned in medical literature back in 175 A.D. Newer diseases have already found their treatment but it is a paradox that Parkinsons disease lacks appropriate cure.

Interventions have been made into making gene based treatments of Parkinsons disease although the delivery systems of the gene into human cells especially to the brain cells have become difficult. Studies on epigenetics have made progress and it is possible to edit the genome of the unborn babies to have normal gene that can code for proteins present in dopamine producing cells. These interventions however have been faced with ethical disputes with human rights activists opposing the entire science of epigenetics and reproductive genetics.

What we should consider in general is the ameliorating of the problem from the individuals having the disease. I feel that the pros for using gene-based therapy in treating Parkinsons disease is a viable intervention which will see the clearance of the diseases from human race. Questions on the ethical implications should be suspended and patients interests be put the first on the agenda. We should consider the pain felt by the patients and show them caring by supporting treatments that will help them.


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