About This Condition
Parkinson’s disease results from progressive damage to the nerves in the area of the brain responsible for controlling muscle tone and movement. The damaged cells are those needed to produce a neurotransmitter (chemical messenger in the brain) called dopamine, so people with Parkinson’s disease manufacture inadequate amounts of dopamine.
Parkinson’s disease occurs primarily, but not exclusively, in the elderly. Parkinson-like symptoms can also be caused by prescription and illicit drugs.
Symptoms include a fixed facial expression, wide-eyed stare with infrequent blinking, fluttering of the eyelids, drooling, illegible handwriting, monotone voice, and rhythmic movement of the fingers, hand, foot, or arm when at rest. People with Parkinson’s disease often have difficulty getting out of bed or a soft chair, and may tend to stand stooped over and walk leaning forward with limited arm-swing and small, shuffling steps. Depression and decreased mental functioning are also common symptoms in advanced stages.
Surgery that destroys specific areas of the brain is recommended for individuals with severe symptoms that don’t respond to drug therapy. Physical therapy, speech therapy, and aids to daily living, such as railings, non-slip mats, and special chairs, may also be suggested in advanced cases.