You only have to see a patient of Parkinson's disease once to be able to make an instantaneous diagnosis of this disease in another. The symptoms are distinct. James Parkinson after whom the disease is named, was the first to give a complete account of this disease in 1817: He described it thus:
'Involuntary tremulous motion, with lessened muscular power, in part, not in action, and even when supported; with a propensity to bend the trunk forward and to pass from a walking to running pace, the senses and intellects being uninjured.'Parkinson's disease, or Parkinsonism, is a chronic malady of the central nervous system, more common amongst the elderly, and characterized by muscle rigidity, rhythmic tremor, akinesia or immobility, loss of associated movements, and postural instability. The presence of these signs impairs the ability of the patient to make proper voluntary movements and to maintain posture through reflexes. The patient presents a characteristic feature of an expressionless or a 'mask-life' face, and has tremors of the hands. It is called 'shaking palsy'.Causes: The real cause of this disease is not known. It is a disease of old age, but may also occur in middle age, It has a sporadic onset which is very gradual and prolonged. It is not considered a hereditary disease, although in about 6% cases, it has been found to run in families. The disease effects. 1 in 250 persons after the age of 40 years. It is degenerative disease in which the centers of brain which normally maintain stance and movements lose functional nerve cells. Parkinsonism can sometimes be due to a known cause such as a late complication of viral encephalitis, injury to brain or arteriosclerosis but such cases are not common. Certain anti-psychotic drugs like reserpine, chlopromazine, and haloperidol may cause symptoms similar to Parkinson's disease, but not the actual disease itself. Although we do not know the cause of this disease, recent biochemical researches suggest that it may be due to a deficiency of a neurohormone (dopamine) and/or abundance of another neurohormone (acetylcholine) in the brain.Treatment and Drugs Some drugs facilitate dopaminergic transmission and reduce the symptoms. These are amantadine and l-deprenyl (Selegiline). With this knowledge, it has now become possible to at least control the symptomes by using specific drugs to correct the neurochemical imbalance, if not to provide a complete cure. Besides drug therapy, it is very important for a patient to undertake suitable physical exercises regularly, to avoid permanent stiffness of the joints. The drugs used in the treatment of Parkinson's disease can be divided into those which correct: 1) the deficiency of dopamine; and 2) the effects caused by excessive acetylcholine.