Healthy Living: Parkinson's Disease
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Parkinson’s is a neurological disease that can cause different parts of the body to tremble or shake. It's caused by the loss of certain nerve cells in the mid brain resulting in a shortage of dopamine.
"People that have the shortage of dopamine in that area will have the typical tremors, stiffness in the muscles," neurologist Dr. Jim Storey said.
Patients can have problems with walking and speaking. It's most often associated with old age, but there is a form of the disease that affects people as early as age 30. Symptoms are different for each patient, and can change day by day, or even hour by hour, and sometimes get confused with Alzheimer’s.
"It is recognized that people with Parkinson’s may have memory problems, but the patterns of it are different then the memory patterns that you see with people with Alzheimer’s,” said Dr. Storey.
There is no cure. Treatment options include drugs that increase a person’s dopamine, and others that act like a dopamine substitute.
"There is also a patch now, which is newer Rotigotine or Neupro, that you put on once a day and help get over some of the ups and downs that people get," Dr. Storey said.
A surgical procedure implanting a stimulator is also an option.
"It is implanted in the chest and the wires run up and they are surgically implanted in specific areas deep in the brain and by stimulating that, it can often make significant difference for the tremors and other symptoms of the Parkinson’s,” Dr. Storey said.
While you can't stop the disease from progressing, you can manage the symptoms.