While some people face mobility challenges early in life due to disability, injury, or illness, the majority of the population doesn’t give much thought to this important aspect of our lives. From the time we learn to lift our heads, crawl, and grasp objects, movement is integral to the way in we approach life and experience the world. However, although it may seem simple—you don’t have to think about scratching your head, grasping a pen, or reaching out a hand to steady yourself when you trip—movement is in fact a highly complex phenomenon, requiring exquisitely refined communication between the brain and the rest of the body. In certain disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, this communication is disrupted.
The brain—the body’s control center—relies on neurons to pass messages between it and other parts of the body. Neurons are specialized clusters of cells that send and receive signals throughout the brain and body. Neurotransmitters are the chemicals produced in the neurons that carry these signals, and enable voluntary movement when they travel from the parts of the brain that process sensory information and regulate planning, to other parts of the brain that control the muscles, and eventually to the muscles themselves. When any part of this process is interrupted, as in neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, movement is compromised.
In Parkinson’s disease, neurons in the substantia nigra, a brain region responsible for the production of the neurotransmitter dopamine, die off in progressively increasing numbers. This degeneration of neurons and the resulting loss of dopamine, a chemical essential to regulating movement. Because the neurons are no longer able to rely on their primary chemical messenger, these neurons are prone to random firing, and the brain is no longer able to regulate movement. This leads to a host of symptoms, including shaking, stiffness, difficulty initiating movement, slowness of movement, stooped posture, a shuffling walk, and a rigid, mask-like facial expression, among others.
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.