For this project, I chose to research the topic of Parkinson’s disease, and how it can be treated. I chose to research this specific disease because my uncles were diagnosed with it, and through time, I started to detect that it was getting worse. I wanted to learn more about it so I can have a better understanding, and know how to help. This relates to Temple Grandin’s From the Margins to the Mainstream, because Parkinson’s is an example of neurodiversity, which was a topic that was discussed in the text. Parkinson’s is a very common and progressive disorder, that has multiple medications to treat it.
Parkinson’s disease is a very common disease, where vital nerve cells malfunction or die, and causes a person to be unable to control their body movements. Based off the article, What is Parkinson’s Disease, by the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, it states that Parkinson’s is when neurons malfunction and die. This then affects the nervous system because some neurons produce dopamine, a chemical that sends messages to the part of the brain that controls coordination and movement (Mayo Clinic Staff & Parkinson’s Disease Foundation). This is stating what Parkinson’s is, and what exactly goes on in the body and brain to cause a person to have the inability to control their body movements. Also, Parkinson’s Disease Foundation has found the statistics of Parkinson’s, and in my opinion, the numbers were quite shocking. They stated that about 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s each year, which is excluding the cases that go undetected. Based on worldwide statistics, though, 10 million people are living with the disease (Parkinson’s Disease Foundation). I was very surprised by how such a vast majority of people are living with this disease, yet scientists still haven’t found the actual cause of it. These are some basic facts about Parkinson’s disease.
Hence, Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder, meaning it gradually develops, and there are many signs of it, and different stages. The Parkinson’s Disease Foundation has determined the signs of P.D. are the following: tremors from the hands, legs, arms, face and jaw, slowing of movements (Parkinson’s research named: bradykinesia) stiffness of the limbs, and impairment of balance and coordination (Parkinson’s Disease Foundation). This is important because if you detect these signs from a person that isn’t diagnosed with Parkinson’s, it would be recommended to see further in the case. Also, based off the Parkinson’s Disease Health Center, they have concluded that there are five main stages of P.D. though time spent and skipping of stages may vary. In stage 1, a person experiences mild symptoms, such a slight tremors, loss of balance, abnormal facial expressions, and poor posture. In stage 2, a person starts to experience difficulty with walking, maintaining balance, and completing physical tasks, due to the new experiences with symptoms affecting both limbs and sides of the body. In stage 3, symptoms tend to be severe. A person starts to experience worsen bradykinesia, slowing of movements, and difficulties walking straight and standing (Parkinson’s Disease Health Center). Based on the facts above, I learned that Parkinson’s tend to be very aggressive in the transitions of stages 2 to 3. I’ve gained realization of how much Parkinson’s patients go through, in their life. These are examples of how a person can possibly detect P.D., and what to expect when the disease progresses.
In addition, Parkinson’s has many medications used to treat the symptoms, and researchers have found possible causes of it. Based off the article from The Mayo Clinic, I’ve learned about a few of the drugs Parkinson’s patients use which are: carbidopa-levodopa, and anticholinergics (Mayo Clinic Staff). Carbidopa-levodopa, is a fused medication consisting of levodopa, the most effective medication for Parkinson’s, which is a medication that passes to your brain, and converts to dopamine, and carbidopa, which prevents or lessens the side effects. Anticholinergics are the medications that were used to help the tremors that is associated with Parkinson’s, but haven’t been used as much due to the side effects of impaired memory, confusion, constipation, dry mouth, impaired urination, and hallucinations. These are just a few medications used for Parkinson’s patients. This made me realize how many medications patients have to use to keep their disorder in control, though they have the inability to do that by themselves. In addition to the many medications, researchers have found possible causes of the disorder. The most recent found possible cause are called, Lewy Bodies. Lewy Bodies are clumps of specific substances within brain cells, that can possibly hold an important clue to the cause of Parkinson’s (Mayo Clinic Staff). I was surprised when I learned this, because there are so many people that are getting affected by this disorder, yet there still isn’t a clear cause. These are just a few medications used, and one of many possible causes for Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s disease has many medications to treat the progressive symptoms of this common disorder. Learning about this disease has really changed my perspective on Parkinson’s patients, because I was never aware of how much they have to go through. Constantly on medication, and knowing that you can’t do the things you once were able to do, must be really hard. My perspective has definitely changed on my uncles as well, because now that they’ve been getting older, I now know more about what they go through, and how I could possible help. After researching this topic, I now want to know, how are researchers trying to find the causes of Parkinson’s disease?
Mayo Clinic Staff. Parkinson’s disease. Mayo Clinic Staff, 2017, http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/parkinsons-disease/basics/definition/con-20028488. Accessed 2 March 2017.
Parkinson’s Disease Foundation. What is Parkinson’s Disease?. Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, 2017, http://www.pdf.org/en/about_pd. Accessed 2 March 2017
Parkinson’s Disease Health Center. WebMD, 2017, http://www.webmd.com/parkinsons-disease/. Accessed 5 March 2017
Tricia Kinman. 6 Possible Causes of Parkinson’s Disease. Healthline Media, 2017, http://www.healthline.com/health/what-causes-parkinsons-disease. Accessed 5 March 2017