Parkinson’s Disease

Almost two centuries ago (1817) a doctor named James Parkinson’s wrote “An Essay On The Shaking Palsy”. Dr. Parkinson’s studied these involuntary tremors that people were having and established the disease as a clinical entity and basically gave the disease a description. “Involuntary tremulous motion, with lessened muscular power, in parts not in action and even when supported; with a propensity to bend the trunk forwards, and to pass from a walking to a running pace: the senses and intellect being uninjured.” At this point, Dr. Parkinson’s did not yet give the disease a name, only a clinical description. It wasn’t until four decades later that Jean-Martin Charcot added rigidity to Parkinson’s excellent clinical description and attached the name Parkinson’s disease to the syndrome.
Parkinson’s disease has been referred to as a “silent epidemic” by Dr. Donald Calne, a neurologist at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. It is an illness that many people don’t know very much about because it affects people by keeping them just that…silent. Parkinson’s disease traps people inside. Inside of themselves and inside of their homes. It takes away mobility and the ability to do simple tasks that most take for granted, thus taking away ones self-esteem and confidence. Unfortunately, like other diseases, it isn’t until is hits home that we need to know more about it. Up until now there has not been a known cure for Parkinson’s however, the future may hold the key to unleashing its victims and allowing them to regain their lives back.
Parkinson’s disease is caused by a loss of the nerve cells in the brain that produce dopamine. Dopamine helps to transmit messages from the brain, which control and coordinate body movements. It is not yet known what causes this nerve damage however; its effects could be devastating to those who suffer its wrath.
Often, the first symptom of Parkinson’s disease is shaking of a limb, especially when the body is at rest. This shaking usually starts on one side of the body, usually in one hand. Before being diagnosed, some people may think that they’ve had a stroke or have arthritis. Other common symptoms could include slow movement an inability to move, stiff limbs, dragging of the feet, shaky walk, and a stooped posture. Sometimes, people affected with Parkinson’s have difficulty making facial expressions and may speak softy because of a difficulty in swallowing.
Like anything else, it is important to be strong and surround ourselves with positive people, creating positive energy. When someone is diagnosed with a disease, it is easy to fall into depression, thus creating anxiety, which can lead to many other ailments such as sleep deprivation, personality changes and sexual difficulties. It is important to remember that we are all blessed and that others have come before us to inspire and create movement in finding cures to help alleviate the pain and suffering that goes with being diagnosed.
Michael J. Fox plays a key role in inspiring people around the world, with or without Parkinson’s. He gives hope and proves that fighting for a cure is worth the risk. Michael J. Fox has brought awareness to this “silent epidemic” opening the world’s eyes to this epidemic. Michael J. Fox was a young idol of the 80’s and now is a new idol of the 90’s and on… As many are aware, he has been lobbying to have barriers lifted in order to allow stem cell research. Stem cells have a unique ability to regenerate. They have a remarkable potential to develop into many different cell types in the body. When stem cells divide, they have the potential of either remaining stem cells or becoming other types of cells such as muscles cells, red blood cells or even brain cells. There is not need to tell you the affects this could have for Parkinson’s sufferers. March 9, 2009 was probably one of the biggest days in Michael J. Fox’s and other Parkinson’s victims lives. That was the day that “President Barack Obama signed into law an executive order that removed barriers to responsible scientific stem cell research, effectively reversing President George W. Bush’s 2001 presidential statement and 2007 executive order limiting federal funding for research involving human embryonic stem cells.”

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