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How does Neuron Dysfunction Affect Parkinson’s Patients?

87Parkinson’s disease is a disorder that affects the brain and the nervous system of its sufferers.

Over time, neurons in the regions of the brain that control movement degenerate, leading to a loss of motor control and a host of primary and secondary symptoms. People with Parkinson’s disease often experience tremors and shaking, a slow, shuffling walk, and an occasional sensation of being frozen in place, incapable of voluntary movement. Parkinson’s sufferers also routinely experience other, more subtle, motor symptoms, such as very small, cramped handwriting, a rigid, mask-like facial expression, and difficulty controlling the tone and volume of their voice.

These symptoms are caused by dysfunction in the neurons that control movement. These densely packed nerve endings in the brain and throughout the body send and receive chemical signals relating to movement. In Parkinson’s, these neurons lose their ability to produce dopamine, a chemical messenger essential to transmitting these signals. This leads to random firing of the neurons and compromised movement. Eventually, Parkinson’s often effects other body systems, causing digestive, urinary, skin, and psychiatric problems.

The exact cause of the brain changes that cause Parkinson’s are not well understood. However, current research points to certain features of cells affected by the degeneration characteristic of Parkinson’s. In someone with Parkinson’s disease, neurons in the regions of the brain responsible for movement—the substantia nigra and the cerebellum, among others—contain dense, spherical clusters of proteins called Lewy bodies. These abnormal masses of protein can be seen in brain tissue under a microscope, and were first identified by the neurologist Frederick Lewy in 1912. In addition to Lewy bodies, the brains of people with Parkinson’s also contain Lewy neurites. Neurites are the long, slender fibers that protrude from neurons and help to transmit information between neurons. Lewy neurites are those that have become swollen and overrun with abnormal proteins.

Edison Home Health Care is happy to advise and assist you or any loved one who seek appropriate care for Parkinson problems. Give us a call at 888-311-1142, or fill out a contact form and we will respond shortly.

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