Understanding the toll Parkinson’s Disease takes on someone
What is Parkinson's disease? How is it treated? Celebrities like Michael J. Fox, Linda Ronstadt and more recently Neil Diamond being diagnosed have also shown us you can live a somewhat normal life with the disease.
It's a chronic degeneration of the central nervous system affecting primarily motor skills.
"People have tremors, difficulty with walking and activities of daily living."
Doctor Paul Kostoulakos, a neurologist at Jersey Shore University Medical Center says the origin hasn't been pinpointed but it could be part genetics and part environmental and very much unknown.
Patients can take medicine to increase dopamine in the brain which helps with ailing motor functions.
How do you know if you have Parkinson's or if it's another neurological disorder?
Kostoulakos says one of the most common symptoms of Parkinson's is a tremor but that's also a result of a number of neurological disorders.
With Parkinson's, it's more an issue of the brain than the nerves, "where there's a lack of dopamine in the central nervous system causing these processes."
Someone with Parkinson's may typically display, "abnormalities of gait or walking, difficulties with tremor, difficulties with rigidity of their muscle tone as well as an overall slowness of their movement and even of their thinking at times."
The most common symptom associated with Parkinson's Disease is the constant shaking or body movements.
Kostoulakos says it's likely due to someone either having too much or not enough medicine in their system at that particular time.
"A lot of times the adjustment of medications leads to an overcompensation for the lack of movement with Parkinson's Disease," Kostoulakos said. "So when you see people like Michael J. Fox or somebody else who may have Parkinson's and you think that they're moving too much and not too little, it might be because your seeing them at a point in their day or in their treatment where they're getting maybe a little too much medication for the lack of activity that they're having."
For anyone suffering with Parkinson's however, Kostoulakos says you can still be you.
"It is not a death sentence, there are things that we can do to maintain quality of life and keep people living the active lifestyle that they want to," Kostoulakos said.
Once diagnosed he recommends, "staying active, getting out and moving around, taking part in exercise programs are all vitally important to keep your lifestyle and quality of life in check with Parkinson's disease."
He says the treatment options for someone with Parkinson's varies from person to person.
A neurological exam can rule Parkinson's out or let you know if you do in fact have it.
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