From the neurophysiologic point of view, Parkinson’s disease is caused by the loss of nerve cells in the part of brain commonly called Substantia nigra. Some of the causes of Parkinsonism are-
Medicines- Intake of medications aimed to treat psychosis and major psychotic disorders. Medications used to treat nausea can also produce Parkinsonism.
Head Injury- Injuries which result in repeated head trauma like injuries due to boxing.
Neurodegenerative Disorders- Presence of some form of neurodegenerative disorders like multiple system atrophy, lewy body dementia or progressive supranuclear palsy.
Exposure to Toxins: Sustained exposure to toxins like cyanide, carbon monoxide and other organic solvents.
Tumor: Presence of brain lesions such as fluid buildup or tumors can cause Parkinsonism.
Metabolic Disorders: Presence of metabolic disorders like chronic liver failure or disorders like Wilson’s disease may cause Parkinsonism.
How can Parkinsonism be Managed?
The management of Parkinsonism largely depends on the etiological factors behind the symptoms. Some of the factors are-
Drug Induced Parkinsonism: In case of drug induced Parkinsonism, there are no such management techniques required to control the symptoms. This is because the symptoms generally are known to disappear once the medications are discontinued.
Other Forms: Other forms of Parkinsonism are managed by doctors prescribing medications according to the cause. In most of the cases, a combination of drugs are prescribed as a part of the treatment protocol.
What are the lifestyle changes that have to be taken in Parkinsonism?
Once Parkinsonism is detected, the patient may be advised to take certain lifestyle changes –
Staying Physically Active- It is important for patients to try and sustain normal daily activities, exercise regularly and if need be, incorporate physical and occupational therapy.
Creating a Safe Environment- In case the gait and balance become impaired, attempts should be made to modify the environment. This may include installation of grab bars next to the toilet, or even in the shower. It is important to remove as much obstacles as possible. Also, frequently used items should be kept near.
Do the Americans with Disability Act consider Parkinsonism as a Disability?
According to the Americans with Disability Act, a person has a disability if he has some form of physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities. The Americans with Disability Act (ADA) does not really contain a list of medical conditions that mention about disabilities. However, the act has a general definition of disability that a person should meet. Thus, few people with Parkinsonism may have a disability under ADA, while few may not.
What is the Diagnostic Protocol of Parkinsonism?
One cannot mention the name of a test dedicated to detect if a person is suffering from Parkinsonism or not since it is affects the motor abilities of a patient, it is easily observable. After the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are diagnosed by the doctor, the patient will go through the medical history of the patient. The level of cognition and the way the person is walking are then assessed. After this, the following tests may require to be done if asked by the doctor.
Blood Test- The blood test is usually done in order to rule out any other condition responsible for the symptoms of motor instability. Such conditions may include lever damage or abnormal thyroid level.
MRI and CT Scans- The patient may be asked to go for a CT or MRI scans to diagnose the presence of brain tumor or stroke. The MRI or CT scan results with Parkinson’s disease are usually normal.
PET Scan- PET scan may help in the detection of low levels of dopamine in the brain at times. PET scans are highly specialized imaging technique which uses substances which are radioactive in nature to create three dimensional images of the substances in the body.
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