About Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological condition classified as a neurodegenerative disorder associated with a loss of dopamine production in the brain. It is caused by a progressive degeneration of nerve cells (the basal ganglia) in the upper part of the brain stem (the substantia nigra) which plays a role in motor control and memory. As a result, people with Parkinson’s disease are often unable to move in a smooth, controlled fashion.
Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease typically appear slowly over time, and in some cases do not appear until about 70-80 percent of the dopamine has been lost. Dopamine levels will continue to decrease over time, causing a progression of symptoms, if proper interventions are not initiated.
Parkinson’s disease was first described in a paper published in 1817 by Dr. James Parkinson entitled “An Essay on the Shaking Palsy.” In this paper, Dr. Parkinson described several characteristics of the disease, including abnormal posture and gait and partial paralysis with muscle weakness, as well as highlighting the progression of the disease. This condition, known up to this point as paralysis agitans, was renamed after Dr. Parkinson for his contributions to the understanding of the disease. Since that time, there have been many advancements that have allowed a much greater understanding of the disease and what can be done to halt its progression.