When eighties television star Michael J. Fox announced he had Parkinson’s Disease, the television watching community was in shock. His hit show, Spin City, was still a raging success and Fox, an experienced actor, showed no symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease. It is easy to understand the shock of the viewers. After all, the vision in mind of someone with Parkinson’s Disease is cemented and based on movies and other stars who have had the disease. The shaking head and hands, the shaky voice and the slow meter—none of them matched Michael J. Fox. And the other thing that did not seem right was his youth. Michael J. Fox was not of the age you might expect of a Parkinson’s disease patient.
One of the reasons for this is that Fox had been (and is still undergoing) Parkinson’s disease treatment. Parkinson’s disease treatment does not cure the disease, but it can hide some of the symptoms. You might think that this means Parkinson’s disease treatment is slowing the progression of the disease but, unfortunately, it is not. As of now, absolutely no treatments have shown any progress in stopping, pausing, or slowing Parkinson’s disease. But wait, let’s start at the beginning with a short explanation of what Parkinson’s disease is.
Parkinson’s disease is a disease that causes your brain and central nervous system to begin to degenerate. It causes your muscles to become very rigid and slow moving. It also causes tremors. It also has the capacity to reduce the stimulation of your motor cortex which is a section of your cerebral cortex that executes all those movements that you want to make. It can be caused by head trauma, genetic mutations, toxins that are present in the environment or just a reduced amount of dopamine. Unfortunately, it is not yet clear what the actual process from cause to disease is.
One of the most often used Parkinson’s disease treatment is medication based. Because your motor cortex is not stimulated enough when you have Parkinson’s disease, your body suffers from a dopamine shortage. By taking dopamine like medications in pill form you might see some improvement in your symptoms. Another Parkinson’s disease treatment is the enzyme Coenzyme Q 10. Coenzyme Q 10 can give your cells more energy, something that Parkinson’s disease robs them of. With more energy they are able to influence your motor control positively—so combined with the dopamine like medications it can create a powerful Parkinson’s disease treatment.
Another important aspect of Parkinson’s disease treatment does not involve pills but involves therapy. Physical therapy helps create a better range of motion in those patients who are dealing with muscle tightening and tremors. It can also make the patient stronger and better able to control some of those tremors.
Yet another option is surgery. Brain surgery using methods that stimulate the deep brain of a Parkinson’s disease sufferer can help people who aren’t helped enough by medication. The surgery is not just a one time stimulation, instead, an electrode is placed deep inside the brain and a device is implanted into your chest that controls the electrode.
If you think you might have Parkinson’s disease you might notice some shakiness in your hands, head and voice. While it may be something much more benign than Parkinson’s disease, that is something only a physician can tell you for certain. See your primary care physician and they will analyze your symptoms to see if they fit the criteria that determine whether or not you have Parkinson’s disease. The sooner you find out what is causing your shakiness, tremors and muscle tightness, the sooner you will be able to begin treatment and ensure your quality of life.
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