Parkinson’s disease is characterized by neurological problems related to the production of dopamine. However, there are clear symptoms of the disease that include things like rigidity, resting tremor, slow movement and even balance problems. From the onset, these types of symptoms appear as mild, but increase in intensity and severity as the disease progresses. Once the disease has progressed to a point where it interferes with everyday activities, a neurologist is usually called in to help. With Parkinson’s disease, symptoms often start on one side of the body before moving over and affecting the other side. It should be pointed out that there is no definitive test – EEG, blood test or brain scan – that can diagnose this disease.
Instead, doctors need to conduct a full medical workup by way of an extensive neurological exam. A good way to evaluate the presence of the disease is the patient’s response to medication used for treating it. Medical experts advise that the right diagnosis is made before medication is administered. 4 years ago, in 2011, the FDA gave the green light to DaTscan (an imaging technique) that allows detailed images of the dopamine system in a person’s brain to be captured. It should be noted that there is no fail-safe way to test for Parkinson’s because many of the symptoms that it exhibits are shared with other neurological disorders. And if the wrong diagnosis is made, it can have disastrous repercussions.
Volunteering for Clinical Research
Presently, there is no cure for the disease. However many treatments are making their way through laboratories and clinical research is needed to prove their efficacy. Parkinson’s itself is typically not considered fatal, but it can create conditions that can prove fatal for sufferers. Loss of balance, choking and associated conditions need to be carefully watched. Since a cure does not exist, clinical research needs to be undertaken which connects volunteers and clinical trials needing them. Of course a comprehensive medical history of the patient must match with the requirements of the clinical trials. This is but one of many ways that patients can get involved in their own treatment program.
Living with Parkinson’s Disease
While no cure exists, there are treatments that can make life more bearable for sufferers of Parkinson’s. Medication is used to treat many of the symptoms of the disease, and to make them less pronounced so that daily life is more tolerable. However, over time the medication becomes ineffective and has negative side-effects. Various other treatment regimens have been suggested – some less desirable than others, including deep brain stimulation. But one of the most widely recommended treatment regimens is physical activity. People with Parkinson’s are now taking to social activities like dancing in increasing numbers, and the literature tends to support the notion that dance is beneficial in many ways. The mental and physical stimulation of music and dance has a profound effect on the health and well-being of Parkinson’s patients.