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Parkinson’s Disease Introduction Parkinson’s disease is named after James Parkinson who wrote about the condition he called “the shaking palsy” in 1817. It is described as a chronic, progressive neurological disease which affects the substantia nigra’s ability to produce dopamine, a chemical messenger which facilitates muscle movement (Christensen, 2005).
The disease is mainly characterized by trembling of the limbs, muscular stiffness, and slow body movement. In addition, individuals suffering from the disease exhibit the following: standing in a stooped posture; walking in short, shuffling steps, and speaking softly in a rapid and even tone (Duvoisin & Sage, 2001). In most cases, 60 to 80 percent of an individual’s dopaminergic neurons – dopamine-producing cells of the body – are already non-functional by the time Parkinson’s disease has been diagnosed (Christensen, 2005). The mechanism which causes Parkinson’s disease remains unknown. Its pathological classification describes it as a systemic degeneration of the brain which targets specific cells in the brain. In 1908 Dr. Frederick Lewy discovered abnormal structures in the brain associated with Parkinson’s Disease. Called Lewy bodies, these structures are not found in other forms of parkinsonism. It has been theorized that a premature aging process, unknown nutrient deficiency or toxin may be causing the deterioration of the substantia nigra (Duvoisin & Sage, 2001). Tremors (300) Tremors are the most common of Parkinson’s disease, as observed in 50 percent of reported cases. ...
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