For years little was known about Parkinson’s disease. Without a cause a cure could not be found. But after extensive research we’re closer to a potential cure as scientists have now discovered a cause for Parkinson’s disease.
But before we get into this new breakthrough, let’s discuss further about this debilitating disease.
Parkinson’s disease mainly affects movement as it is a progressive neurological illness. What we mean by this is that over time Parkinson’s disease worsens. Sufferers of Parkinson’s disease will experience tremors in their limbs and even stiffness and lack of movement which will worsen overtime.
This occurs because damage is caused in the nerve cells within the brain. The damaged neurons – substantia nigra – contain dopamine, a chemical which controls movement. Damaged and lower amounts of dopamine lead to changes in bodily movement, even limiting the ability to move.
As mentioned earlier Parkinson’s disease is a progressive illness which means it worsens over time. Parkinson’s disease comes in five stages and it’s not uncommon for individuals to skip over stages and therefore symptoms worsen more rapidly.
Stage 1: Symptoms are mild and the individual may experience slight tremors in hands and arms on one side. Posture, balance and facial expressions are affected and are noticeable.
Stage 2: Symptoms have now progressed to affect both sides of the body. Walking and balance become impaired and difficulty arises in completing tasks.
Stage 3: Symptoms are quite severe and person may be unable to walk in a straight line or keep their balance. Physical movements also become much slower.
Stage 4: Walking becomes limited, movements are very slow and daily tasks are hard to complete – they may require assistance or a live-in care-giver.
Stage 5: Nursing care is highly required as person has lost all major abilities to perform tasks, walk or care for themselves.
We’ve already mentioned a few symptoms briefly within the five stages of Parkinson’s disease but let’s explore these in further detail.
Parkinson’s disease symptoms include:
As you can see, all major bodily movements become affected by Parkinson’s disease. As symptoms and stages of Parkinson’s disease worsen more abilities become impaired.
Now that we have a better understanding of what Parkinson’s disease is and how it affects the body, let’s look at the latest study that reveals a possible cause of the illness.
The new findings come for the University of Cambridge. Researchers have successfully identified alpha-synuclein’s (a protein in the brain) role in the cause of Parkinson’s disease.
Usually this protein’s role is to help chemical signaling in the brain to work properly. If this protein exceeds its threshold it begins to clump together. Clumping of alpha-synuclein results in it becoming toxic. This toxicity then results in the beginning of Parkinson’s disease.
To better understand this concept we may think of cholesterol. When we increase our HDL, or bad cholesterol, our arteries begin to clog and so oxygen-rich blood cannot travel through. This can lead to serious health problems overtime.
One’s risk of developing Parkinson’s disease is then determined by their balance of proteins – alpha-synuclein and synaptic vesicles. Synaptic vesicles carry neurotransmitters to the nerve cells. Cells reproduce vesicles so this exchange can continue to occur. Alpha-synuclein is responsible for releasing these neurotransmitters. When alpha-synuclein doesn’t bind and fold properly that is when they can become toxic and become what is called Lewy-bodies. Lewy-bodies are also found in Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers are hopeful that their new findings can offer a better understanding of Parkinson’s disease which can in turn help find a cure for the illness.
Although the new research seems promising it will still be quite some time until a cure for Parkinson’s disease will come about. In the meantime here are some suggestions to help manage it.
Healthy eating: Healthy eating is a trademark treatment for all illness. What we eat can either worsen or slightly improve an illness. This is no different in those with Parkinson’s disease. A balanced meal is essential for those with Parkinson’s disease as it provides nutrients which the body as a whole requires to function properly.
Exercise: Because Parksinon’s disease can cause stiffness in the body it’s important to try and exercise to maintain muscle, mobility and balance. Exercising within your limits and with the help of a physical therapist may aid in boosting movement and improving balance.
Avoiding injury: It’s important that those with Parkinson’s disease avoid injury at all cost, especially falls. Exercise may help with stability but avoid walking backwards, do not pivot on your feet and avoid carrying objects while walking.
Parkinson’s disease can greatly affect one’s life and we are now one step closer to finally combating this debilitating illness. Although there isn’t a proven method of preventing Parkinson’s disease eating well and staying active can make for a strong and healthy body.
Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects elderly adults and is characterized by the occurrence of tremors, slow mobility, and a peculiar walk, in which the back is usually arched and the head positioned forward.
Doctors who study Parkinson’s disease have said before that exercise helps those who suffer from it. The physical activity improves balance and can prevent joint stiffness which are both common symptoms of the devastating illness. Recently, scientists have discovered that cycling can have a very positive impact on Parkinson’s disease sufferers.