In the Parkinson's disease, degeneration of central nervous system takes place, which results in impairment of motor skills of the patient. The disease is categorized as one of the movement disorders, and its important signs are tremor, muscle rigidity, and bradykinesia. Physical movements slow down considerably in the problem of bradykinesia. Dopaminergic neurons present in the brain are responsible for production of dopamine. Reduction in the formation of dopamine leads to decreased stimulation of motor cortex by basal ganglia. This is one of the main Parkinson's disease symptoms.
The early symptoms include loss of balance, stiffness in muscles, tremors, etc. One may not know, or find it difficult to determine whether these symptoms are actually associated with Parkinson's. In the advanced stages however, they are visible clearly. The condition of a patient worsens, and a wheelchair may be required for movement. A stooped posture, along with change in facial expressions, is observed. It becomes difficult to perform day-to-day activities. In the final stages of the disease, patients may develop dementia, and it is difficult for them to carry out simple tasks like washing, feeding, etc.
Life Expectancy of Parkinson's Disease Patients
One can expect these patients to complete their natural life cycle. In the March 2009 issue of Movement Disorders, information regarding rate of survival for such patients was presented. As per the study published in this issue, the rate of survival of patients after 10 years of diagnosis, is the same as that of any other normal person. The myths about duration of life being lowered due to secondary complications have therefore been debunked. It is also found that even if a person is living with the Parkinson's disease for 15-20 years, their longevity is lowered only slightly. The body of the patient starts degenerating, and then, there are chances of decrease in life expectancy. In many cases, the problems which are not directly related to this disease lead to an increase in the mortality rate. Cases with gait problems are known to have a lower survival rate than in the normal ones. Another fact that came out of the study (Movement Disorders, March 2009) is that the life expectancy for women with this condition is more than that of their male counterparts.
The treatment measures used for Parkinson's disease cannot cure it or increase the life expectancy. However, quality of life can be improved to a great extent. The medication helps in maintaining optimum levels of dopamine in the brain. Reducing the usage of dopamine is also one way to keep the brain functioning to its best ability. Motor control can be affected if dopamine doses exceed their required levels. Therefore, it is necessary to monitor the treatment process keenly.
The facts and information about Parkinson's disease prognosis, gained through new research, help increase our knowledge about this disease. Finally, one can say that curing it is not possible; however, with proper care and medication, one can hope to provide a quality life to the patients.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is solely for informative purpose and not intended to replace the advice of medical experts.