Parkinson’s disease is a rare and progressive neurological disorder that causes damage to the brain cells of the body, affecting movement and speech. Although the prevalence of this disease is very rare, there is a possibility of causing permanent damage to the brain. The condition cause loss of nerve cells in the substantia nigra, a region of the brain that regulates movement. These nerve cells pass away or suffer damage, reducing the capacity to make the crucial neurotransmitter dopamine. On World Parkinson’s Day, we have Dr Bhushan Joshi, Consultant – Neurology, Manipal Hospital, Kharadi- Pune with us, who will give a detailed explanation and understanding of this condition and how severely it can cause permanent damage to the brain.
According to Dr Joshi, a person suffering from this disorder may also experience other major neurological problems like maintaining concentration, and difficulty in chewing and swallowing food. One of the major challenges in the management of this disorder is the lack of awareness which leave the patient vulnerable to social negligence. Moreover, this lack of knowledge and acceptance is the root cause of why this disorder goes undiagnosed at an early stage. In India, a little over 1% of the total population suffers from this disease, as per public data from 2016.
How Parkinson’s Disease Damages The Brain
A few research suggests that environmental factors like certain toxins may irritate the nervous system, triggering this disorder. In other cases, it has also been seen that certain mutations of a few genes can also cause Parkinson’s disease. Apart from that, this disorder is also passed genetically from family members and can even be triggered by the formation of clumps and Lewy bodies in different parts of the brain.
Typically, symptoms start slowly and get worse with time. They could experience difficulties speaking and walking as the illness worsens. Also, they may experience behavioural and mental changes, sleep issues, depression, memory loss, and weariness. Although most persons with Parkinson’s first encounter the disease beyond the age of 60, 5% to 10% experience beginning before the age of 50, making age a clear risk factor. Due to brain damage, people may also experience the following symptoms:
Due to muscle weakness, people start having muscle control problems.
About 80% of people with Parkinson’s disease experience this regular shaking of their muscles, even when they are not actively moving. Essential tremors, which rarely occur when muscles are at rest, are distinct from resting tremors.
As the condition progresses, the person may experience stiffness in the arms, legs, neck, back, and even smaller facial muscles.
This typically manifests as the illness worsens. When walking, a person with it will take shorter, shuffled strides and use their arms less. In moving, turning may require multiple steps.
Apart from that, some other motor symptoms include reduced control of facial muscles, cramped or small handwriting and trouble swallowing. As the effects of Parkinson’s disease make it very difficult for patients to perform daily tasks, a few measures can surely help in managing day-to-day activities. These include:
Placing minimal furniture at home can give wide walking space to patients suffering from this problem.
Using chairs with straight backs, armrests, and firm seats will make it easier for the patients to get up and sit down.
Managing the room temperature along with keeping the colours of the room light will help the patient relax.
One must install handrails at every interval of the house. This will ensure that the patient has some support while moving and does not lose balance.
One must always keep the doctor’s number within reach. In case of an emergency, the patient can contact their doctors for help.
Moreover, with the help of their doctors, patients can also get certain therapies for managing the progression of the disease.
Patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease should also get a routine checkup and stick to their medications as prescribed by the doctors to manage the risks.
GIPHY App Key not set. Please check settings