Living with Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a neuromuscular disorder which results from the loss of brain cells that produce dopamine (one of body's neurotransmitters). As a result of this loss, there are four major symptoms that occur: trembling in the hands, arms, legs, and face; rigidity of the arms and legs as well as the trunk; a slowing of body movement; and instability of body posture which occurs as imbalance and lack of coordination. Exercise may help make it easier to live with this condition since activity will often improve mobility, muscle tone, and range of motion. Improving muscle strength often improves confidence and the ability to move. Short naps may help improve energy. Purchasing clothes that require less zipping and buttoning will help if the conditions progresses and the skills to do these things become diminished. Physical therapy may be prescribed. Medications that help restore the lost dopamine from the brain can provide dramatic relief of symptoms. Levadopa is the primary drug prescribed. In the body, it is converted to dopamine by nerve cells. It is combined with another drug called Caridopa, which causes more of the levadopa to get to the brain. Other drugs such as Eldepryl (Selegiline) are also used. A relatively new drug called Azilect blocks the breakdown of dopamine.