Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative brain disease in which nerve cells, mostly those in the substantia nigra (a small brain area) producing dopamine, a chemical substance, are gradually affected.
The cause behind this process is unknown in the case of idiopathic Parkinson’s disease, which usually starts at the age of 60, while it is usually hereditary in younger age patients.
Neurologists normally proceed with the clinical diagnosis of the disease. Should there be any doubt, specific imaging tests may help indeed reveal changes in those cells which should be producing dopamine, the most frequently-used method today being ioflupane brain scintigraphy- DaTScan.
Out of all symptoms the first one the patient notices is a slight tremor of the hand, especially when upper extremity is relaxed. Symptoms though also include a gradual slowness in the individual’s motion. Muscular hypertonia gives a sense of rigidity and there is lack of motivation so patients appear not to be in the mood to undertake activities which previously were pleasant to do on a daily basis.
So far the disease is neither fully treatable nor curable. Most treatments at hand though are sufficiently effective to help deal with the symptoms to quite a significant extent.
Basic treatment consists of administering levodopa to complement the substance which is deficient. Adjunctively there is also the option of using dopamine antagonists, CΟΜΤ inhibitors & and MAO B inhibitors as well as agents with a neuroprotective function.
Besides medication which may be administered orally, there is also the possibility to use patches and injectable drugs or even scope for continuous administration through special pumping devices. Treatment is always individualized and tailor-made to suit the needs of the patient. As there have been important developments in the field of neuroplasia and gene therapy, in relatively younger patients when medication is not working, the disease may be managed surgically by implanting electrodes to the brain and thus seamlessly conducting without fail electric current thanks to a device implanted in the patient’s chest.
Surgery will not treat the disease; still it may help control symptoms in a satisfactory manner.
Moreover, with the start of medication as treatment or even before that stage (i.e. in the first stages of the disease) the patient also takes up a physical exercise routine.
Exercise is as important as medication because it helps keep the body in shape.
Medication, that is, offers scope to have excellent motion capacity which still the patient needs to work for and voluntarily perform.