Why did I choose to research this wellness topic?
I chose to research Parkinson’s disease for a couple of reasons. For one my great aunt died of Parkinson’s disease not too long ago. My Granny had to take care of her for almost a year as she reached her final stages in Parkinson’s. That wasn’t the only cause
of her death. She also had diabetes that accompanied Parkinson’s. Secondly it is
something that I do not understand. I’ve seen many people with Parkinson’s disease, or
what I thought was Parkinson’s, yet I never understood just what happened or how it
affected the body. All that I knew at the time was that it caused a great amount of difficulty in the people’s lives that I had seen experiencing it.
I had a teacher one year of my high school career and it was hard to watch him. He had tremors that occurred at all times of the day. It was obvious to our sight and it was scary in our thoughts. It was something we knew nothing of and one of our closest teachers experienced it every day of his life. I never thought much of it in the beginning but as I watched my Granny nurse her sister to death I wanted to know more about it. Even though we all knew that his condition was serious, we never understood it and therefore it was a stranger to our knowledge. I have found that you can’t be around
something that is a so-say stranger to our knowledge. This doesn’t make us better
citizens as people, but instead lazy and insulting citizens to those who experience things like Parkinson’s disease every day.
What did I know or believe about this wellness topic prior to this project?
The things that I knew before researching this topic were sparse. There were some simple things that I knew only because I had known people with the disease. As everyone else knows, Parkinson’s disease is often labeled with the shakiness of the
effected person’s hands, arms, and head. I knew this fact because the teacher I saw
nearly everyday was known for his shakiness. He was always moving around. It was almost like it came in a routine, from his head, then his arms, to his hands. Now that I have researched I know that theses tremors do not come in any certain order it was just the way it affected him. I also knew that it did limit some of the physical activities that the individual did. He could drive but we noticed that many times it did affect his outlook on driving in a major way. The stiffness was also something he had that affected him.
The most important thing that I knew about Parkinson’s disease is that there was
no cure. I experienced this when my Granny had to go take care of her sister. She was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and she could no longer take care of herself, so my Granny decided to do it. I saw how it affected her daily life. I noticed that it delayed her every reaction and caused her life to slowly progress. Her speech was also slowed and when she walked I noticed that she had a hard time getting up, like she was in the beginning stages of walking. So I put those two together and assumed that your motions slowed down. I thought from there it had something to do with a part of the brain not functioning right, even though I didn’t know this for a fact. But my experience with
watching others, wouldn’t teach me what my research did.
What process did I follow as I researched and wrote this paper?
As I began to research Parkinson’s disease I first started with the simplest things
to do. I went straight to the library online catalog and began searching for “Parkinson’s
Disease.” Once I found several books I went to check them out. I find that books have the most accessible information that is easy to understand. They are directed toward the reader and can be easily understood because the people do not necessarily have a doctor’s
degree and can put their words into simpler ways.
Once I had found some books that I thought would get my research to a jump start, I began using the databases that the library website offers. I went to MDConsult and Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine along with the Health & Wellness Resource Center. Journal articles were not the easiest for me to find, but I feel that they offer new, interesting topics and facts about the Parkinson’s. Many different research methods were
shown in these journals.
To the next part, which I consider the last link of research, I went to the internet itself. This is very complicated for me to use, but like the journal articles, the internet and all of the websites lead me to new and interesting facts and pictures. My research came in steps and once I had found my sources I began taking notes and organizing them in an easy way for me to understand. I highlighted the direct quotes. Now that I start writing my paper, I look back on my power point.
I will use my power point as an outline for my paper. I will refer to it for the order that I write my findings and the things that I want to put in emphasis. From here, my paper will become my final step, after everything else is done.
What did I discover about this wellness topic?
Described first in 1817 by Englishman, James Parkinson, Parkinson’s disease is
the degeneration of cells in the brain. Once called “shaking palsy or paralysis agitans” Parkinson’s is known for its tremor. He first knew that the part of the brain affected
makes a chemical known as dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical made in the brain by a group of cells, which is called the substantia nigra. When these cells are lost dopamine is no longer produced. Dopamine is the chemical that sends messages from one part of the brain to other parts of the brain. Dopamine works with muscle movements such as walking, movement of the arms and legs, and even associated with the expressions of the face (Larson, 1996).
Parkinson’s cause is unknown. Genetics and the factors in our environment have
been taken into consideration but nothing has said that either of these have the direct cause of Parkinson’s (Robinson, 1999). When someone starts to feel the symptoms of Parkinson’s and the cause is not known then it is labeled, “Idiopathic Parkinson’s Disease.” It is believed as it is written in the article copy written by The National
Parkinson Foundation, Inc. that no small drama such as an accident or emotional status has any association with Parkinson’s disease, though some things may trigger the
symptoms sooner than they would normally show up (What The Patient Should Know, 2002). Parkinson’s can begin its routine in younger adults in thought to an incident with carbon monoxide or some type of poisonings (Parkinson’s Disease, 1998). Along with
this information it is concluded in the article Current concepts in the diagnosis and management of Parkinson’s disease, written by Guttman, Kish, and Furukawa (2003),
that family history has nothing to do with the person that Parkinson’s affects (Guttman,
Kish, & Furkawa, 2003).
Parkinson’s affects around 1.5 million people in the United States alone. On The National Parkinson Foundation, Incorporated website it is stated that Parkinson’s disease
“targets older adults” and one percent of persons over the age of 60 are diagnosed with
the disease (What The Patient Should Know, 2002). So the question is asked: what is Parkinson’s disease and how do I recognize it?
Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are easy to recognize. The most common
symptom of Parkinson’s disease is the tremor (Parkinson’s Disease, 2002). The tremor is a spastic movement that occurs in different parts of the body. Most commonly it takes place in the hand or in the fingers. It is so common in patients that it is sometimes called the “pill-rolling tremor.” It is an involuntary movement that is constant in the thumb and
the index finger. With this movement they actually look like they are rolling a pill between their two fingers. This type of tremor only takes place when they are awake and not sleeping (Larson, 1996). The tremor is not how we would expect it to be. The patient only has the tremor when he or she is at rest. The patient doesn’t experience the tremor when they are performing an action, but instead when they aren’t (Parkinsonian
Tremors, 2002). According to Guttman, Kish and Furkawa (2003) the tremor may start and then it may become more extreme when the person experiences stress, or are in cold weather and during a phase of fatigue. Most tremors only affect on side of the body, say one leg or one arm, and is called “unilateral tremor” (Guttman, Kish and Furkawa, 2003).
Another symptom that takes place in many patients is the sudden action of not being able to walk. The patient will take a few steps and feel overbalanced. Soon they may break into an uncontrollable, short-stepped run (Clayman, 1989). My interview source stated that her patient at the time did have trouble with first standing up. She
would stand up and suddenly forget that she had begun walking and would lose concentration. She would then have to begin her tasks of walking all over again (Bryant, 2003). Sometimes the patient will begin experiencing a dragging of one of their feet. Sometimes that it will become so severe that they will feel as if it takes all of their effort to walk (What The Patient Should Know, 2002). At other times they may also encounter rigidity. Rigidity can be classified in several different ways. Specifically in PD patients, he or she will feel as if it is hard to get through a full range of motion without some sort of tightness or resistance and this is labeled as the “lead pipe” rigidity. Once the patient experiences this type of rigidity they will go through a calming period where their muscles will suddenly begin to be at ease and relaxed and this is called the “clasp-knife”
rigidity. Some other types of rigidity include “the cogwheel type of rigidity” where the muscles “have a ratchet-like feel” (Guttman, Kish & Furkawa, 2003).
There are other symptoms that vary from PD sufferers. Their movements will become slower, and sometimes they will experience a stop in their activity. This is called bradykinesia and it may include everyday activities such as eating, walking, and brushing their teeth. Some movements may also be frozen by not receiving signals and this is called akinesia. Parkinson’s patients may also be affected by the muscles that control their balance and their posture. One side effect that many may not know of is the inability to show facial expressions. Their face may become blank and without the sight of emotional feeling along with seldom blinking of the eyes (Robinson, 1999).
As the disease may begin to worsen some more symptoms may begin to vary with time. Symptoms such as changes in their speech, lack of sleep caused by nightmares the inability to become comfortable and irregular bowel movements (Robinson, 1999). But
changes in speech do not always affect the patients that suffer from Parkinson’s (Bryant, 2003). Handwriting may also be affected in such ways as becoming smaller as it moves along the page and depression may become a mental health issue. Some emotional changes may take place in the patient, including fear, insecurity and changes in their emotional status (Robinson, 1999). There are more related problems that go along with PD sufferers but they don’t occur in all patients. Tension, fatigue and unhappiness may come with the diagnosis or in the later stages of Parkinson’s (Larson, 1996).
There are some symptoms that people have that may resemble Parkinson’s
symptoms but aren’t always signs that you have PD. Some people may experience a
tremor but this may be caused by other neurological disorders and may not always be Parkinson’s. Some other symptoms that may be related but aren’t Parkinson’s are the side-effects given by the drugs that treat nausea and some drugs used to treat severely bad psychiatric disorders. If you are affected by these symptoms then your doctor will look at your neurologic background and take in consideration other circumstances that may be causing these symptoms (Larson, 1996). The patient’s symptoms may also include oily
skin, dire judgment and the inability to tolerate heat (Parkinson’s Disease, 1998).
Parkinson’s isn’t an easily diagnosed disease. It is usually made on the
examination of the patient’s neurologic history (Larson, 1996). Some other tests such as
x-rays con help but most of the time you are diagnosed by your symptoms. A blood test cannot be used to diagnose you with Parkinson’s but instead they can use other methods
of examination to limit out other things that may be causing the same symptoms. Though there is no cure for PD the doctor usually evaluates the patient’s symptoms and
prescribes them levodopa. If it helps their symptoms or they seem to go away then it is a good sign that Parkinson’s is what they are suffering from (Parkinson’s Disease, 2002).
“Parkinson’s disease can be controlled with medication” as Bryant stated when
referring to her sister and her fight against Parkinson’s (Bryant, 2003). Levodopa is a
medicine that relieves the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. When you have Parkinson’s the dopamine in your body doesn’t “cross the bloodbrain barrier,” but levodopa is known for producing an agent that cross the barrier. Though this is prescribed to many Parkinson’s sufferers it does have its bad effects. It has to be carefully prescribed to
patients that suffer from cardiovascular or pulmonary disease. Also the patient needs to be watched closely because it could cause depression and lead to suicidal thoughts. If you have ever had an ulcer you should use precaution using this medication because it can cause internal bleeding in such a case. If used during pregnancy in higher doses such as 200 mg or higher then it may cause the baby to be born at a lower weight. If you are nursing you should not use this medication at all. It is usually prescribed in small doses in the beginning, such as “0.5 to 1 gm daily, divided in two or more doses with food” (Levodopa, 2002).
Along with levodopa, carbidopa is often prescribed because when levodopa is taken, it is made into dopamine by the basal ganglia. This has to be prescribed in large amounts and when it is, it often causes nausea. When carbidopa is given with levodopa it reduces the amount of levodopa that has to be taken by 75% (Carbidopa, 2002).
As shown in the article written by Gretchen Vogel (2002), there is new research being done with embryonic stems cells to help cure Parkinson’s. They are hoping that
these cells that are currently being grown in culture labs will grow and replace the dopamine that is lost in Parkinson’s patients. It is of right now showing in a study that the products that produce dopamine are being grown in rat’s brains. But this doesn’t mean that they will suddenly start putting it in patients brains (Vogel, 2002).
But meanwhile elsewhere other scientists are currently doing some research on stem cell implants as a cure for Parkinson’s. At the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver they put stem cell implants in a total of 20 people. As of March, 2001 of the ten people over the age of 60 none of them showed any signs of improvement after suffering from rough side-effects. In response to this, six new patients that were going to be receiving implants will not be. The side-effects of those with implants included, uncontrollable use of their limbs and spastic movements of their head and arms (Stem cell research, 2001).
Surgery may also be an option for Parkinson’s disease patients. When they
perform surgery it takes place in the brain. It is done to correct the tremor and the shakiness along with other symptoms of Parkinson’s patients. Surgeons have also placed
“stimulating electrodes similar to a heart pacemaker” in the brain to relieve the symptoms
of PD. Recently they have also transplanted fetal brain tissue into parts of the brain to repair the “lost brain circuits” (Larson, 1996).
Though all of these treatments may be helpful it is important to be ready for the changes that will come with Parkinson’s disease. The little changes in the patient’s daily
life may be a big improvement on the symptoms that take place. He or she must remember that good health is the first step in beating the obstacles that PD places on them. Exercises are always important, but more importantly remember, that the patient’s energy
level can change from day to day so he or she must be ready for the changes that may take place. Along with these healthy ways of living the patient must keep in consideration that the mental state of health will also affect the way that the their physical health is. Anxiety and tiredness along with not being happy may cause symptoms to worsen. But one of the most important treatments is the support of the patient’s family
and friends. They must be able to understand and know what is going on with their body and the help of family and friends are always important (Larson, 1996).
The outlook for Parkinson’s patients is fairly nice. A patient doesn’t have to be put on medication until their symptoms start interrupting their daily lives. The symptoms do become more strenuous as time moves on but it does affect everyone in a different manner (Larson, 1996). Some patients may be affected by all of the symptoms and some may only experience some at different stages of the disease. If medication is prescribed and taken the correct way then many times their function loss may be helped and prevent any others from occurring. Continuous exercise and “physical, occupational or speech
therapists” may be a new outlook to take in the correction of lost functions (What The Patient Should Know, 2002). There is no remission for Parkinson’s patients but it is believe by John Bradshaw and Jason Mattingley the authors of Clinical Neuropsychology: Behavioral and Brain Science that if everyone lived for a hundred years then they too would experience the affects of Parkinson’s disease (Bradshaw & Mattingley, 1995).