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How Does Parkinson's Affect Movement?

There are mostly two types of treatment options for Parkinson's disease: medications and surgical procedures.

How Does Parkinsons Affect Movement?

One of the first motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease are tremors

Parkinson's disease is a type of central nervous system disorder that results in unintended or uncontrolled body movements like tremor, rigidity, shaking, and postural instability. However, it affects muscle control and movement, but it can also lead to behavioural and social changes, including memory loss, fatigue, anxiety, and sleep disturbances. Parkinson's disease is very progressive; the symptoms go unnoticed in the initial stages but get worse with the passage of time. Involuntary body movements start occurring when the level of dopamine (a chemical messenger that controls movement) decreases. Therefore, Parkinson's disease is also known as a movement disorder.

5 ways Parkinson's disease affects movement

For the uninitiated, a person with Parkinson's disease can experience multiple types of body movements. However, some people may have just a few symptoms; others may experience a lot of them. Similarly, the degree of severity also differs from person to person. The five ways in which Parkinson's disease affects body movements are:

  1. Tremors: One of the first motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease are tremors. These tremors occur when your body is at rest and lessen while you are asleep or partially active. For example, your fingers or hands start shaking while you are sitting. However, tremors affect one side of the body, but with time, both sides may become affected.
  2. Muscle stiffness: Another early symptom is muscle stiffness or rigidity. It occurs when a person's muscles get stiff and remain tight for a long time. This type of rigidity can make everyday tasks challenging and even cause difficulty sleeping.
  3. Slow movement: Bradykinesia, also known as slow movement, is seen in people with Parkinson's disease. It can appear in different ways, like difficulty imitating movements, a reduction in automatic movements, or a general slowness in physical activities.
  4. Balance issues: The most challenging part of Parkinson's disorder is the balancing issue, also known as postural instability. It includes difficulty with balance and coordination, which increases the risk of falling. This issue can make it difficult to perform simple tasks like carrying objects or even walking.
  5. Drooling: Excessive drooling, called sialorrhea, is a common symptom of Parkinson's disease where a person's mouth may involuntarily hang open, causing the saliva to slip out. Moreover, the disease makes it difficult to swallow food or even talk properly, which is also one of the reasons for drooling.

Treatment options

There are mostly two types of treatment options for Parkinson's disease: medications and surgical procedures.

  • Medications: There are various medications that can help improve the symptoms caused by Parkinson's disease. These medications increase the dopamine level in the brain or act as a substitute for it.
  • Surgical procedures: This procedure includes deep brain stimulation, in which small electrodes are placed in the cerebrum that send pulses to the brain, which helps to manage the movement and reduce the symptoms. This treatment is offered to people who are at advanced stages of the disease and have stopped responding to medicines.

Content by: Dr. Dhanunjaya Rao Ginjupally, Consultant Neurosurgeon, (Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery), KIMS Hospital, Secunderabad

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