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Parkinson's Disease

ParkinsonÆs disease is a neurological disorder which results in the ability to control body movements (Pace and Glass, 2000). It is second only to AlzheimerÆs disease in frequency as a neurodegenerative disorder in the United States (Cummings, 1999). At least a half a million Americans are affected. Most cases of ParkinsonÆs begin after age 50 years and there is an increasing age-related prevalence to at least 80 years. The problem in ParkinsonÆs is caused by a decrease in the production of the neurotransmitter dopamine, a chemical that helps nerve cells to communicate. Dopamine controls the communications from the brain to the muscles to direct and control movement, and is responsible for these movements being smooth and deliberate, free of shaking and trembling. In ParkinsonÆs disease, the decrease in dopamine levels leads to loss of control of movements, resulting in shaking and trembling, which are early symptoms of the disease. This makes it difficult for patients to carry out normal daily functions such as walking, preparing food, etc. The tremors and shakes are worse when the patient is relaxed. Hands, arms and legs do not move as smoothly as they did in the past, and the patient may have difficulty in holding things steadily. Sometimes the patient remains in a certain position longer than usual, and facial expressions may decrease. Problems with speech, such as speaking with a much softer voice, occur, and handwriting changes, becoming smaller and more cramped.

In the later stages of the disease, some muscles are tense and contracted because they do not receive the correct input from the brain and nervous system. With disease progression, tremors increase and involve the fingers, hands, jaw, head and body. These tremors decrease when the patient makes an intentional movement. Bradykinesia -- a slowing of movement and loss of the ability to move automatically and spontaneously -- occurs, and it is someti...

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Parkinson's Disease. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 21:19, July 01, 2022, from