According to the Institute of Neurodegenerative Diseases, almost 1 million Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in recent years. Other than Alzheimer’s disease, this condition is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder that affects people over the age of 50. Although there are remote cases where this disease is diagnosed for younger people, it remains to be a serious illness that causes more scientists to currently look for possible ways to treat and reverse this condition.At present, Parkinson’s disease has no known cure and some patients die not because of the illness itself, but due to the complications that arise from this condition. Progressive loss of muscle control that leads to trembling of the extremities and head, stiffness of the body when moving, slowness when walking and doing some minor chores, and an overall impaired balance are just a few of the signs that a person may be suffering from Parkinson’s disease. As the condition progresses, the person will encounter more difficulties in walking, talking and doing even the simplest of tasks.Although extensive studies have been made in the past looking into the possible causes of this condition, one cannot pinpoint why people are contracting this disease. Some would blame it on genes and heredity while others believe that this disease is caused by too much exposure of some chemical substances.To fully understand how the human body develops this disease is to be aware of the function of the human brain. A large portion of the brain controls body movement. A group of nerves that is responsible for this is called basal ganglia. A person will start showing symptoms of having Parkinson’s disease the moment these nerve cells start to die.An important brain chemical used to ensure the health of these nerve cells is called dopamine. Dopamine is the messenger between the two brain areas that results in producing smooth and controlled movement in a person. Lack of dopamine will cause ineffectiveness for the two brain areas to communicate well. Thus, the body’s movement becomes impaired and uncontrolled.The greater the loss of dopamine will not only affect the movement, but other parts of the brain will degenerate to a certain level causing some non-movement related symptoms. These symptoms may be in the form of forgetfulness, depression and loss of interest in other activities.A neurologist is someone who specializes in treating brain, nerve and muscle disorder. You need to see such a specialist if you suspect you, or anyone in the family, may have Parkinson’s disease. Tests are given to check if the different symptoms eminently found are caused by the disease or any other related diseases.Unlike before, most patients diagnosed with this disease can now have hope because effective treatments have been found which can reverse and delay the progression of this disease. New found medicines are discovered and developed that can be used to eliminate, at the same time, improve the symptoms commonly found with this condition. In fact, experts believe a cure will be at hand in the near future.One of the medicines commonly prescribed to people with this disease is called L-dopa or levodopa. Its purpose is to increase the production of dopamine in the body that will result to a person’s improved movement ability. Some drugs were developed to imitate dopamine, but as expected, there are certain side effects.Another treatment that is becoming popular because of its effectiveness is the stem cell treatment wherein stem cells are taken from a healthy placenta to become a hormone that produces dopamine. These cells may be implanted, or transplanted, not only into the brain, but also under the skin as well. Once this procedure is successful, the patient will see a huge reversal of symptoms and effectively slowing down the condition’s progress. In fact, patients treated through stem cell implants usually revert back to their normal self.
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