Meet The Contributors

Mandy ~ I am a stay at home mom who has been on a medical roller coaster ride going from doctor to doctor trying to figure out what is wrong with me. All of the doctors agreed that there is something medically wrong with me, they just don't know what... Basically, just about every time that I go to the doctor, I wind up with a new diagnosis. It is very frustrating. I hope that some of these links will maybe help you or lead you in the right direction.

Ferd ~ I have had the honor and pleasure of practicing Internal Medicine for over 25 years. I am now enjoying sharing my thoughts and experience in the blogosphere in a number of ways. I am grateful to Mandy for including me on her excellent blog, Texas Medical Freak!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Parkinson's Disease ~ Back to the Future

This is my first guest post for Mandy, the original Texas Medical Freak! I'm honored to be a member of Friends of Mandy! - I was trained at the Mayo Clinic, and have been practicing Internal Medicine in Toledo, Ohio for 25 years. I am the creator of the Crazy Medical Cases blog. ~~~

People suffering with Parkinson's Disease want to go back to a time when their brains made enough dopamine, a neurochemical that helps transmit electric impulses between nerve cells. It is possible that in the near future, stem cell treatments may help restore the brain's natural production of dopamine.

Michael J. Fox has been a great spokesman for Parkinson's Disease (PD), though he is not the typical patient. PD is usually a disease of older men and women, and it is fairly common. The two main features of PD are a resting tremor and a stiffening of muscular actions. The tremor is most visible when the person is not moving and is relaxed. That is why you see Michael J. Fox always squirming around, so as to conceal the tremor. As long as he is in motion, the PD tremor is not so visible. PD patients describe the stiffening like a feeling as if they are encased in stone, or walking through thick syrup. It is difficult for them to bend at the joints. This stiffening is more incapacitating than the tremor. As the disease slowly wears on over the years, PD patients develop a slow, shuffling walk, lose the expression in their face, have trouble getting out of chairs, and even their handwriting changes drastically. This adds up to a terrible loss of quality of life. Much later, PD can also affect their memory and their thinking, much like in Alzheimer's disease. All of this is because of the loss of brain cells that make dopamine.

Increasing dopamine in the brains of PD patients has been a challenge. There are various medicines available, and that's a very good thing, but each of them have significant side effects, and ultimately they fail. The cure would be to find a way to prevent the destruction of dopamine producing brain cells, or to somehow restore them. That's where stem cell research and treatments fit in.

Stay tuned for future posts on Parkinson's disease that will delve into the science of stem cell research and treatments in a little more detail.

This is a short YouTube video of a Parkinson's patient:


The Transparent Hypnotist said...

Well done first post! I have an odd question, though. I have a friend who has Parkinson's. He has all the symptoms you mentioned and complains of those feelings. Yet, he is a dancer, swing actually. When he dances, still, all the evidence and problems he has with the disease fade away, and he becomes graceful and fast. Is this common?

Mandy said...

Transparent ~

This post was great, I am so excited that Ferd agreed to write for me on such topics.

This is more of a question for Ferd. I have two relatives that have Parkinson's but, neither one of them were dancers. But, I think that it mainly depends on what stage of the disease that they are in. Each PD person is different. My grandfather had PD for as long as I can remember and lasted about 30 years with it and this is not very common. Then there is my uncle he has only been diagnosed with PD for 8-10 years and he has gone down hill fast.

I am glad that you like the new addition and I am sure that Ferd will come up with more great informative post in the future.

Thanks for stopping by ~ Mandy

FerdC ~ Crazy Medical Cases said...

Glad you liked the post!

PD starts with subtle symptoms that can evolve very slowly, as was Mandy's grandfather's experience. The part of the body that is affected can vary. And different patients can have different degrees of the tremor and the stiffness.

I suspect the dancer had very early disease, or at least a very slow progression, and probably had more of the tremor than the stiffness. The tremor would have been suppressed while in the motion of the dance.

Finally, the medications available for Parkinson's can be very effective. Some people respond beautifully. Perhaps the dancer has been fortunate with his treatments. I hope is stays that way for him for a long time.

Misty Dawn said...

My father-in-law has Parkinson's. I am very, very close to him and hate watching him go through this. He is starting to experience the memory problems and the thought processes seem to be affected too. I had never realized how much this disease affects the brain functions.

Mandy said...

Misty Dawn ~ I am sorry about your f-i-l, it is a very hard disease to watch someone you love go through. The sad part of PD is that, I know with my grandfather, in the end as much as he seemed out of touch with reality he still knew what was going on around him. It was as if, his thoughts just got stuck somewhere? They were there he just couldn't express them.

shirley said...

My mom has Parkinson's and is 86 years old. She started off with forgetfulness, then the shuffling of her feet. It has been at least three years since the tremors started. She is getting more forgetful though I think it is her age and other health conditions she has i.e. CHF (Congestive heart failure).

Mandy said...

Shirley ~ I am so sorry to hear that your mom has Parkinson's. It is a terrible disease. I hope that they someday find a cure, sooner rather than later.

=^./.^= M