The disease of agitating paralysis, more commonly known as the Parkinson’s disease, is a chronic and progressive movement disorder. Tremors are the most known symptom of Parkinson’s. But what is this disease about?
You will get details by reading the next paragraphs of this month’s file, which is related to the World Parkinson’s Disease Day.
So, what is Parkinson’s disease?
This disease is characterised by a degeneration and then a progressive disappearance of the nerve cells.
In 2015, Parkinson’s has reached 200 000 people in France, a huge number to which 25 000 persons are added every year (according to the statistics of SNIIRMA and INVS).
The elderly are more affected than others, but they are not the only ones, because 10% of those affected are diagnosed before the age of forty.
There is more than one type of Parkinson’s disease, but Idiopathic Parkinson’s disease is the most common form. It represents about 80% to 90% of the cases; the other forms share the term “Parkinson’s syndromes”.
What are the causes?
Even though many initiatives have been put in place to advance research, the reasons for this disease are still unknown. Heredity or genetic factors could be involved, as well as environmental factors.
Indeed, a lot of studies shed light on different aspects. Continuous exposure to heavy metals, pesticides, and herbicides are possible causes of the disease, also violent head shocks, micro-cerebral infarction, neurotoxins …
Several symptoms are liable to Parkinson’s
This symptom is marked by a slow and difficult coordination of movements. At first the patients may feel tired and then they may find themselves unable to practice their daily activities.
Rigidity or stiffness of the limbs and trunk
This symptom regards particularly the spine, joint, hands, and feet. It corresponds to muscular pains that may cause difficulties even during an ordinary movement- Physiotherapy is very advised in this kind of case.
The famous symptom “Tremor”
When we hear the word Parkinson’s, tremors come immediately to our minds. It is the most known symptom, and it principally affects hands and arms. Most of the time the tremor disappears while sleeping, and according to France Parkinson 64% of the people who are affected with this disease tremble, while 36% are not concerned with this symptom.
In long term, other disorders may appear and they generally do not respond to treatment, for example:
- Freezing of gait (difficulties in getting up, walking…);
- Balance disorders that can eventually lead to falls;
- Deglutition disorders (difficulties while swallowing hard, big, and dry food);
- Tiredness, sleep disorder, daytime sleepiness, sexual disorders, pain, digestive disorders, urinary disorders…
- Psychological disorders: stress, anxiety, depression, apathy.
Medication treatments used to reduce the extent of symptoms
As said before, this disease has no specific treatment, it only has treatments to reduce the effects of the symptoms. Even the efficacy of those treatments may vary from a patient to patient:
- LEVODOPA or L-DOPA : is a medication used to ameliorate the principal disorders ( Hypokinesia, rigidity or stiffness of the limbs and trunk, Tremor) by compensating the lack of dopamine and minimizing it’s degradation. Treatment may also cause adverse effects such as behavioural disorders.
- Dopamine agonists: is a medication that causes less motor complications, but it’s not effective as the first one.
Maybe you don’t know but a lot of celebrities and stars suffer from Parkinson’s
Michael J. Fox
The famous American actor was only 30 years old when he was diagnosed with Parkinson disease in 1991. He chose to hide it for a long period from the public, before announcing it in 1998. After that, he quit the tv-show “spin city” to spend more time with his family and to continue his fight with the PAKINSON disease.
In 2000, he established « The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research » to raise money for research.
Since its creation, the foundation has raised approximately 650 million dollars. He explains: “the battle against Parkinson’s disease can be won and we have an important role to play in this victory”. Sometimes he even makes jokes about it, as he once said, “I have Parkinson’s disease, I can make a cocktail in five seconds”.
The boxing legend was diagnosed with Parkinson in 1984 at the age of 42, which was a turning point in his life and the reason why he decided to devote his time and effort to fight against this disease. He passed away in 2016 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.
“God gave me Parkinson’s syndrome to show me I’m not “The Greatest”– he is”.
“I always liked to chase the girls. Parkinson’s stops all that. Now I might have a chance to go to heaven”.
The famous designer has suffered from Parkinson for fifty years, and just like Michael J.FOX, she hid it for a long time, until 2012 after the publication of her book “ Don’t forget that I’m acting,” in the same year she confessed to “ELLE” magazine her story: “ what scares me the most, is to have to give a different picture of me specially because I gave a promise to myself to never take a different path, I’ve always wanted everything, I’ve wanted more and of course the best.”