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What is Parkinson's Disease?

Posted by [email protected] on September 25, 2015 at 7:30 AM

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Many people around the world suffer from the degenerative movement disorder known as Parkinson's disease. Although the disease is currently incurable, it is not fatal. Parkinson's primarily affects the elderly, with almost all diagnosis' being made after the age of 60. In fact, just 15 percent of patients experience Parkinson's symptoms before age 50.

Parkinson's disease is not new. In fact, it has been around for centuries. The symptoms of Parkinson's were first described in ancient Indian and Chinese texts, where the recommended treatment was a series of herbal preparations. The disorder was formally recognized in 1817, when British physician James Parkinson published an essay cataloging the symptoms. He called the disease "paralysis agitans," but fellow doctors soon coined the disease Parkinson's.

Today, scientists understand that Parkinson's disease results, in part, from a shortage of the brain chemical dopamine. Dopamine stimulates receptors in the basal ganglia, a part of the brain that controls motor functions and emotions. Normal brain stimulation results in good nerve cell function, and normal movements.

In people with Parkinson's, however, 70 percent or more of these dopamine cells have died, reducing the amount of dopamine in the system. As a result, movement becomes very difficult. Classic Parkinson's symptoms include tremors, difficulty balancing, stiff limbs and slower movements. Some patients experience decreased facial movement, including trouble blinking and swallowing.

The cause of Parkinson's is unknown, although scientists do suspect both genetics and exposure to environmental toxins may play a role. In rare cases, head trauma, stroke or prescription antipsychotic medications may also contribute to the onset of symptoms. Although Parkinson's disease is progressive, people who have it can still lead fulfilling, productive lives.

Just look at three-time World Heavyweight Champion, Muhammad Ali. Since his diagnosis in the mid 1980s, Ali has written a book, started a line of healthy snack food and traveled the world for humanitarian aid projects. Actor Michael J. Fox hasn't let Parkinson's get in the way of his career, either, starring in more than 20 feature films and television series since he began experiencing symptoms in the early 1990s. The actor is also an advocate for people with the disease, and has created The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research. Although the degenerative disease known as Parkinson's is not curable, there are a number of treatments that can help sufferers lead healthy lives. 

See Testimonials on Parkinson's Disease Here.

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