Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson’s disease is one of the most common neurodegenerative conditions in the world.  It is commonly found among the elderly population, especially between the ages of 50 and 65, though it can also occur in younger adults.  Parkinson’s disease primarily affects the nervous system which in turn impairs body movements.  It damages dopamine-producing neurons in a specific area of the brain called substantia nigra.  During the initial stages of Parkinson’s, your face may show little or no expression.  Your arms may not swing when you walk.  Speech can be soft and it gets slurred.

The onset of symptoms is gradual in nature, slowly over years, sometimes starting with a hardly noticeable tremor in just one hand.  Though tremor is the most common sign of Parkinson’s, symptoms of the condition may also include stiffness or slowing of movement.First signs include a feeling of weakness and stiffness in one limb or slight trembling of one hand even at rest.  With time, the shaking deteriorates and spreads, muscles become stiffer, impairing movement.  Progression of symptoms happens differently in different people due to diversity of the disease and worsens as your condition progresses over time. One person may have mild jerking of body parts but severe dementia. Another might have severe tremors but no issues with cognition and someone else may have a multitude of symptoms.The symptoms are the result of the gradual degeneration of nerve cells in the area of the midbrain that controls body movements.  Apart from the above-mentioned signs of Parkinson’s, progression of the disease may also bring in depression, cognitive issues and other mental or emotional problems.  Men are more prone to Parkinson’s than woman.

Parkinson’s disease in itself is not a fatal disease, but its complications can be serious. 

Signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease:

Signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s often begin on one side of the body and progress towards the other side.  Being a progressive disorder, symptoms gradually worsen.  Signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s may include:

Tremor:  This uncontrolled shaking usually begins in a limb, often your hand or fingers, although it can happen in the jaw or feet.  You often notice your thumb and forefingers rubbing together, especially at rest and when you are feeling stressed.  This kind of tremor is called pill-rolling tremor.

Bradykinesia (Slowed movement):  With time, Parkinson’s disease impairs your movements.  You may find doing even simple tasks difficult and time-consuming.  Your steps may become shorter when you walk.  Getting in and out of a chair, walking and rolling over in bed may be difficult.  You may drag your feet during walking.  There will be slowness in overall movements.  Even talking becomes difficult.  All this happens because of slowing down of brain’s signal to specific body parts.  Due to bradykinesia, your face can be expressionless – mask-like look.

Changes in walking:  Arms not swinging while you walk is a common symptom of Parkinson’s disease.  It may not be easy for you to walk around corners.  You may feel your feet are stuck to the floor. 

Rigid muscles:  Muscles can become stiffer in any part of the body.  Stiffer muscles restrict your range of motion.There will also be abnormal tone or stiffness in the trunk and extremities

Impaired posture and balance:You may have a stooped posture and may have balance problems as a result of Parkinson’s disease.

Loss of automatic movements:  Your ability to do involuntary movements such as blinking, smiling or swinging your arms may take a beating.

Speech changes:  Your ability to speak effortlessly also comes down; as a result you may speak softly, quickly, slur or hesitate before talking.  There won’t be usual inflections in your speech, just a monotone.

Writing changes:  Writing becomes a problem and you struggle to write.  Your writing may appear small.

Patients can also feel lightheadedness or fainting when standing (orthostatic hypotension) and swallowing problems at advanced stages of the condition. Book an appointment with us if you have any of the above-mentioned symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease

What causes Parkinson’s disease?

Parkinson’s occurs due to gradual break down or death of nerve cells.  Majority of symptoms arise due to a loss of neurons that produce dopamine.  Dopamine has an important role to do.  It acts like a messenger which tells another area of your brain when you want to move a part of your body.  When the cells that make dopamine begin to die, there won’t be adequate dopamine to pass the message.  When the levels of dopamine are alarmingly low, it leads to abnormal brain activity, thus causing abnormal movements of your body parts.

The reason that triggers the death of cells that make dopamine is unknown, but several factors come into play including:

Your genes:  Specific gene mutations that can cause Parkinson’s have been identified through medical research.  But unless many family members are affected with Parkinson’s, these are uncommon.  However, some variations in the gene appear to make a person prone to Parkinson’s.

Environmental triggers:Making oneself exposed to certain toxins or environmental factors may step up one’s risk of Parkinson’s later in life, but the risk is relatively small.

Many changes can happen in the brain of people affected with Parkinson’s, although it is not clear what causes these changes.

Stages of Parkinson’s Disease

There are five different stages of Parkinson’s Disease starting from the mildest stage to the most severe stage.

Stage 1

During this stage mild symptoms will start to appear which will not interfere with the daily activities. Mild tremors and slight changes in movement, posture etc appears on one side of the body. In some cases, stage 1 will not show any symptoms.

Stage 2 

Both sides of the body may be affected by slightly worsened tremors and movement issues. Patients will still be able to do his activities himself however it will become difficult and will take longer time.

Stage 3

This is the mid-stage of Parkinson’s Disease. Loss of balance and slowness in movement is prominently seen in this stage. With difficulty in balance, falls are common. Patients can still lead an independent life however activities like dressing and eating will become difficult.

Stage 4

At this stage, it becomes extremely difficult for the patient to live an independent life. Activities of daily living like dressing, eating, bathing etc become severely inhibited and cannot be performed without assistance. Patient may be able to walk independently but in most cases will need a walker or the movement will be extremely slow.

Stage 5

Stage 5 is considered as the most advanced stage of Parkinson’s Disease. In this stage, patients often require a wheelchair because walking and standing alone will become nearly impossible. Some patients will get bed-ridden. Severe impairment in motor skills will be noticed and patient will be dependent for almost all of his activities of daily life. He will need round the clock assistance. At this stage, patient may experience hallucinations and delusions as well.

Understanding the disease and progression

If you or your near one is affected with Parkinson’s, you may wonder how the condition will unfold.  You might be eager to know what symptoms will come into play, when they will start and how they will hamper normal day-to-day life.  These are basic questions that anybody with the condition may have in their mind, but Parkinson’s is not a basic disease.  It doesn’t move in a straight-line and hard to predict exactly how it unfolds.

Parkinson’s comes with two main aspects of symptoms.  One affects you explicitly like tremors and rigid muscles.  The other aspect of symptoms are non-motor type such as emotional changes, depression, loss of smell, dementia etc.  You may not get all symptoms and you can’t predict the intensity with which the symptoms are going to affect you.

Having affected with Parkinson’s is not the end of the life.  It is possible to lead a life of great quality with Parkinson’s

Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease at Plexus

At Plexus, in an endeavor to achieve desired results in minimum possible time, patients with Parkinson’s Disease are provided with a holistic treatment approach which includes Stem Cell Therapy, Medication, General Lifestyle Changes, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, Community Reintegration.

Stem Cell Therapy

Stem Cell Therapy is proving to be the best treatment option due to its success in providing relief to patients and helping them avoid both the pain caused by surgery and side effects of drugs.

This alternative approach that has been recently explored uses dopamine-producing cells derived from stem cells. These stem cells are then transplanted into the patient’s brain, where they replicate the properties of the degenerated cells of the substantia nigra. As a result, symptoms of Parkinson’s disease gradually reduce.

Regenerative Rehabilitation Program

Regenerative Rehabilitation Program at Plexus has helped tremendously in maximizing functional abilities and minimizing secondary complications of patients with Parkinson’s Disease. Parkinson’s affect different people differently. Hence a customized treatment program involving multidisciplinary approach is adopted at Plexus. Specialized teams are involved who are adept in providing medical, nursing and therapeutic care to people with this condition. The aim of the program is to provide maximum capability to a person to perform his daily functions and maintain a quality of life to the greatest extent possible.

Physiotherapy

Regular Physiotherapy helps people with Parkinson’s Disease improve their mobility by reducing stiffness in muscles. It improves posture, balance and gait. Physiotherapy includes Strength and endurance training, flexibility, gait and balance training.

Occupational Therapy

The main aim of occupational therapy is to help people perform their day to day activities like eating, bathing, cleaning etc independently to the maximum extent possible. Occupational Therapists work closely with people with Parkinsonism ensuring that their life is made easy at home, work and in General community. Handwriting training is an important aspect of Occupational therapy practice in patients with Parkinson’s disease.

Speech Therapy

Along with movement, Parkinson’s disease affects muscles in the face, mouth and throat which are used for speaking. This will cause problems in speaking, swallowing, and in voice. Speech Therapists who are trained in all forms of communication including non-verbal communication, help people with Parkinsonism by teaching them different techniques of communication. They also offer tips to solve problems associated with eating and drinking.

For enquiries related to treatment of Parkinson’s Disease, send a message to www.plexusnc.com

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A Case Study…

A doctor with Parkinson’s disease

Improvement in Handwriting in a patient with Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease is one of the most common and most disabling chronic illnesses that affects a person holistically. Right from facial expressions to a shuffling gait, it affects the patient from top to toe. What can be worse for a doctor who has spent about forty years treating and curing patients with multiple illnesses than to suffer from a crippling disease like Parkinson’s? Dr N came to us with a full blown Parkinson’s plus syndrome. He had great difficulty in walking, multiple freezing episodes, history of falls, fixed gaze, poor hand writing and incomprehensible speech. Parkinson’s had affected his life and his role as a doctor. Due to poor speech output and illegible handwriting which was stricken by micrographia, his patients were having a tough time seeking for his consultation and advice.

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Patient Testimonial