Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a type of neurodegenerative disorder which is also a progressive disorder that causes many motor and non-motor dysfunctions. These dysfunctions can be diagnosed by the study of electromyography (EMG) and electroencephalography (EEG) of the Parkinson’s disease patient.
Symptoms of PD
Motor Symptoms a. Bradykinesia b. Rigidity c. Tremor d. Postural instability
Non-Motor Symptoms a. Neuropsychiatric b. ICDs c. Sleep disorder d. Autonomic dysfunction e. Sensory f. Other
Causes of PD
A neurodegenerative disorder is a type of disorder whose symptoms increases with disease progression. Parkinson’s disease is one such disorder which is mainly cause due to loss of dopamine in the substania nigra of the human brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter which helps a person to coordinate the signals from brain to muscles.
Basically, dopamine inhibits human movement. A person with Parkinson’s generally loss this coordination, as a result its limb movements are disturbed Loss of this dopamine results in abnormal nerve firing patterns within the brain that cause impaired movement.4 Hence the loss of dopamine in the substantia nigra is the main cause of Parkinson’s disease.
Environmental and Genetic factors are also responsible for PD. Environmental factors such as exposure to certain toxins such as exposure to MPTP, an illicit drug, or in people working in mining industries. These miners are mostly exposed to the metal manganese, which are also responsible for the cause of PD. Farmers exposed to insecticides and pesticides have high risk of PD. Many genetic factors are also responsible for PD.
Researchers have identified different genetic mutations associated with PD, including the alpha synuclein gene, and many more genes have been also associated with this disorder. Studying the genes responsible for inherited cases of PD can help researchers understand both inherited and sporadic cases.
Treatment of Parkinson’s disease requires that the levels of Dopamine be increased to decrease the symptoms of PD like bradykinesia (slow movement), rigidity, tremors and loss of balance which occurs with PD. By raising Dopamine levels slightly, symptoms can be reduced and patient’s quality of life can be improved. There are drugs which increase the Dopamine in the patient.
However if the role of Dopamine in the brain is understood, it becomes easy to see how Parkinson’s patient could also suffer from unusual symptoms. In fact, over 50% of Parkinson’s patients suffer from PD psychosis. This includes hallucination, delusions and paranoia. Add on the effects of medication which increases Dopamine levels and the patient can have magnified levels of these really serious side effects.