Dr. Joon Faii Ong is a noted authority on Parkinson’s Disease. In this article, Dr. Ong gives a base-level explanation of Parkinson’s Disease and how it can affect people’s lives.
What Causes Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s disease is a chronic disorder affecting an estimated five to six million individuals worldwide. People who suffer from Parkinson’s generally develop symptoms of the condition after they turn 50 years old and age beyond their seventies. The primary cause associated with Parkinson’s Disease is the loss of nerve cells in a part of the brain called the substantia nigra. The reason for this neurodegeneration is not fully understood. Still, it seems to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors that disrupt normal functions within these cells.
What are the Symptoms Associated With Parkinson’s Disease?
The main symptoms associated with Parkinson’s are the tremors in one’s hands, arms, legs, or jaw. In addition, patients may also experience slowness in movement, stiffness in the limbs and trunk, impaired balance and coordination. However, there is a global variation in how these symptoms manifest themselves between different patients. For example, some patients may suffer from a tremor, while others only experience slowness in movement. In addition, Parkinson’s Disease can also be associated with other conditions such as depression, sleep apnea, and constipation.
How is Parkinson’s Diagnosed?
There are two main diagnostic tests used to identify individuals who have Parkinson’s Disease. The Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) and the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) are used. The MMSE is mainly used to assess mental status, while the UPDRS is a more in-depth examination of neurological function. After these examinations have been completed, patients will be diagnosed with either Parkinson’s Disease or dementia.
What is the Treatment for Parkinson’s Disease?
For patients diagnosed with Parkinson’s, there are a variety of treatments that can help manage the symptoms associated with the condition. For example, medications such as Levodopa (Sinemet) can help alleviate tremors and muscle stiffness. Other medications such as dopamine agonists can also be used to manage other symptoms associated with Parkinson’s Disease. At the same time, deep brain stimulation has been shown to improve tremor-dominant patients who are non-responsive to medical treatment.
On a larger scale, there are specialized exercises that help individuals with Parkinson’s improve their motor function and reduce the effects of stiffness in their limbs. In addition, physiotherapy can also help patients who lack coordination and balance to recover their mobility.
What is the Life Expectancy for People Suffering From Parkinson’s Disease?
It is estimated that individuals with Parkinson’s Disease will generally live between five and six years after the condition’s onset. However, this number varies depending on how well they can manage their symptoms through medication, physiotherapy, and lifestyle changes.
What is the Role of Exercise in Treating Parkinson’s Disease?
It has been shown that exercise can help people with Parkinson’s improve their motor function by stimulating critical regions within the brain. In addition, it also helps to reduce stiffness and increase strength. To give some perspective as to what kind of effect this may have on an individual, physiotherapy has been shown to slow the progression of Parkinson’s Disease by up to 30%.