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    Parkinson’s Disease Essay (785 words)

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    Diseases are sometimes extremely devastating and cruel. Some diseases move veryrapidly while others are slow and painful.

    Treatments are sometimes useful yetother times nothing can stop the silent beasts that lurk in the body. Parkinsons disease is a slow moving disease that slowly corrupts the brain. Parkinsons disease (PD) is a chronic motor disorder that causes tremors,rigidity, slowed body movements, unstable posture and abnormal gait. Thishappens when neurons, nerve cells, in a part or the brain called the substantialnigra gradually die. These cells normally produce dopamine, a chemical thathelps relay messages between areas of the brain that control body movement.

    Thedeath of the cells leads to abnormal low levels of dopamine, and causesdifficulty in controlling muscle tension and muscle movement both at rest andduring periods of activity. PD as of now affects about 500,000 Americans, withabout 50,000 new cases diagnosed each year. It is generally a disease thataffects people of late or middle age at about age 60 however about 5 percent ofpatients have early-onset PD and are younger than 40 years old when symptomsbegin. PD is slightly more common in men then women.

    So far scientists have notdetermined the reason why some people develop PD and others do not. Some expertsblame a process called oxidation. During oxidation unstable molecules that areproduced in the brain as a result of its normal chemical reactions whichultimately damage the brain. Another theory suggests that the effects of toxicaffects of drugs may cause PD. Additional evidence suggests that PD may berelated to environmental toxins especially because some claim that they havefound rates of PD that are higher in rural areas where farming is intense andresidents drink well water.

    So far PD has not been linked to geneticabnormality. PD usually begins as a slight tremor of a hand arm or leg. Thetremors usually affect a limb at rest but it also may occur when it is in use. The tremor may improve when the patient intentionally moves the limb or it maydisappear entirely during sleep.

    In the hand the tremor is often described aspill-rolling when it affects the thumb and index finger. As PD progressesthe tremor may become widespread eventually affecting limbs on both sides of thebody. IN addition PD also causes limb rigidity a slowing of intentional bodymovement unstable posture and gait problems. When bradykinesia affects thefacial muscles it may cause drooling, disrupts normal eye blinking interfereswith facial expressions. Bradykinesia of the other muscles may affect every daylife. The ability to wash or dress him or her self, to use eating utensilsbecomes very difficult.

    Also to perform necessary household chores such aswashing the dishes or doing laundry also becomes difficult. In many PD patientsa problem with balance and unsteady posture occur. This may make it hard forthem to lower or raise oneself into a chair. Walking may require small shufflingsteps usually without the normal arm swinging motions. Handwriting also becomesshaky and often illegible. Although there is currently no cute for PD itssymptoms can be treated with several different types of medication.

    Antioxidantsslow down the progression of existing PD. Dr. Stanley Fahn of ColumbiaUniversity has found that PD patients given large doses of oral vitamin C andsynthetic vitamin and delayed the progression of their disease to the pointwhere they delayed the need for 1-dopa by 2. 5 years. The most commonconventional treatment for PD is the use of drugs such as l-dopa medications,selegiline (deprenyl and eldepryl) which blocks the breakdown of dopamine in thebrain, and anticholinergenic drugs which reduce the amount of acetylcholineproduced in the brain which corrects the imbalance between dopamine andacetylcholine. Surgical procedures such as pallidotomy are proving successful inthe treatment of PD.

    Pallidotomy is a procedure in which a small portion of theglobus pallidus, a structure deep within the brain, is surgically destroyedresulting in improved motor functioning. Doctors are also finding great successin eliminating tremors by implanting electrodes in the brain. Currently, testingonly allows the electrode to be implanted on one side of the brain so ifpatients have tremors on both sides of the body, they must choose which sidethey wanted treated. Complementary/alternative therapies for the treatment ofParkinson’s are becoming more common because they are proving to slow theprogression of the disease in its early stages. Some of these treatments includesupplementation with vitamins C, B and E, co-enzyme Q-10; controlled diet,relaxation therapy to alleviate stress which aggravates PD; and detoxificationto eliminate as much metal toxicity as possible.

    A well designed program ofrest, exercise, and physiotherapy can also significantly ameliorate the symptomsof PD. In conclusion, PD is a frightening disease. There is no true cure for thedisease but it can be slowed down and controlled. Doctors and scientists arecontinuing to try and find a cure.

    Hopefully a cure will be found to end thepain and suffering of PD patients.Health Care

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