April is Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month. Approximately one million Americans live with Parkinson’s disease. This is more than the number of people with multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and Lou Gehrig’s Disease combined. Parkinson’s disease typically affects people over the age of 50 and is characterized by resting tremor, rigidity, postural instability, slowness of movement, and reduced amplitude of movement. It is a progressive disorder that results in the loss of nerve cells in the brain that produce dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical messenger that transmits signals between two regions of the brain to coordinate activity. If there is deficiency of dopamine, nerve cells “fire” out of control. This leaves people unable to direct or control movements. When people with Parkinson’s disease try to move, they encounter the following problems:
- The “Get Ready” signal is too weak: This results in inadequate preparation or anticipation for movement. There is bradykinesia – slowness of movement, and hypokinesia – reduced amplitude of movement.
- The “Go” signal is too weak: This results in inadequate selection or ability to start movement. There is freezing or start hesitation when trying to move.
- The “No Go” signal is too weak: This results in inadequate completion of movement. There is festination – small, accelerating steps when walking, and sequential movements more difficult and run together.
Treatment of Parkinson ’s Disease:
Medication is a vital component of treatment for Parkinson’s Disease. There have been many advances in medication therapy for treatment for Parkinson’s Disease and many new treatments are on the horizon. In addition to medication, other treatments include:
- Rehabilitative therapy—Physical, occupational and speech therapists can assess the person’s abilities and needs, and provide exercises to help maintain the highest possible range of motion, muscle tone, balance and flexibility, and communication ability.
- Lifestyle alterations—Exercise helps maintain muscle tone and strength. Diet is important for nutrition, for maintaining an appropriate weight, and because protein level may be a factor in the person’s condition. Rest and stress reduction are also important.
- Support groups – Huntsville enjoys a very active Parkinson’s support group that offers aid, support, education, discussion and raises research funds for treatment of Parkinson’s disease. Information about Huntsville’s support group can be found at http://parkinsons-huntsville.webs.com/ or calling 256-859-6523.
Therapy Achievements is a Rehabilitation Center that provides Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapy for Balance and Movement, Speech and Swallowing, Swelling from Lymphedema and Edema, Driving Rehabilitation and Functional Living Skills for visual and cognitive re-training. We help people with Brain Injury, Stroke, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, Lymphedema, Head and Neck Cancer, Vertigo and Dizziness, and other disorders that interfere with mobility and function. We offer VitalStim Technology, Saebo Technology, LSVT LOUD Treatment, LSVT BIG Treatment, and Neurodevelopmental Treatment.