World Parkinson’s Day – Know all about Parkinson

World Parkinson's day 11 April

11 April every year is celebrated as the World Parkinson’s Day, commemorating the birth anniversary of Dr. James Parkinson.

Who was Dr. James Parkinson?

James Parkinson was an English surgeon, apothecary, geologist,  palaeontologist, and also a political activist. Dr. James Parkinson was born on April 11, 1755, and died on December 21, 1824.

Dr. James  is best known for his 1817 work, An Essay on the Shaking , describing  “paralysis agitans“, a condition that  later renamed Parkinson’s disease by Jean-Martin Charcot in the honour of work done by Dr. James Parkinson.

What is Parkinson Disease?

Parkinson is a disease in which nerve cells that deliver the neurotransmitter dopamine to other cells are reduced in numbers. The disease is progressive as death cells spread to even larger parts of the brain. However, rate  of progression differs from patient  to patient. Stiffness, tremors and difficulty in starting movements are characteristic feature of Parkinson’s disease.

In the advanced stages of the disease patient becomes incapacitated by the disease, largely limiting freedom of patient to perform routine tasks.

What is the role of Dopamine in brain functioning?

Dopamine plays many important functions in the brain. Dopamine plays pivotal role in the  modulation of behaviour and cognition; voluntary movement; motivation; punishment and reward; inhibition of prolactin (Hormone for milk production) production; sleep; dreaming; mood; attention; working memory and learning.

How does Parkinson’s start?

The first symptoms are a slight sense of weakness, with a proneness to trembling in some particular part; sometimes in the head, but most commonly in one of the hands and arms. Other symptoms  include slowness of movements (bradykinesia), stiffness (rigidity), tremor and imbalance.

Early warning signs of Parkinson’s disease

No specific test exists to diagnose Parkinson’s disease.  Neurologist will diagnose Parkinson’s disease based on your medical history, a review of your signs and symptoms, and a neurological and physical examination.

  • Tremors in hands arms, legs, jaw and face is the earliest cardinal symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
  • Bradykinesia: slow movements owing to stiffness of limbs and torso. Movement may be freezed after few taking few steps.
  • Small Handwriting: because the brain is unable to process thought and writing large letters at the same time
  • Loss of Smell
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Trouble Moving or Walking
  • Constipation
  • Masked faces, less blinking of eyes
  • Dizziness or Fainting
  • Stooping or Hunching back
  • Hyperurination(urinating more than required) is also a symptom of the Parkinson’s disease.

Apart from the movement related problems in the Parkinson’s Disease patient may have

  • Mood swings disorders: such as depression, anxiety and irritability
  • Cognitive changes such as problems with focused attention and planning, slowing of thought, language and memory difficulties, personality changes, dementia
  • Hallucinations and delusions
  • Orthostatic hypotension(a drop in blood pressure when standing, light-headedness)
  • Sleep disorders such as insomnia, excessive daytime sleepiness, rapid eye movement behavior disorder(RBD), vivid dreams, talking and moving during sleep, restless legs syndrome /periodic leg movements disorder.
  • Constipation and early satiety(a feeling of fullness after eating small amounts)
  • Pain and fatigue
  • Vision problems
  • Excessive sweating, especially of hands and feet, with no or little exercise
  • Increase in dandruff(seborrhea dermatitis) or oily skin
  • Sexual problems
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Impulsive control disorders such as binge eating, excessive shopping or gambling, usually a side effect of medications

Red Tulip-Color of the ribbon for Parkinson

Parkinson’s disease awareness, it is a red tulip. This red tulip was developed by J.W.S. Van der Wereld, a Dutch horticulturist who had Parkinson’s disease. He dedicated and named this tulip for James Parkinson.

Biologically, if we can say Parkinson’s disease as the disease where your body is secreting less quantity of inhibitory chemical substance – Dopamine. But burden of the disease is deep down, not only taking toll on physical, mental and emotional health of the patient but that of the caregivers and families too. The patient should  be encouraged to have healthy and physically active lifestyle.

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