How Did Parkinson’s Disease Start?




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What is Parkinson’s disease? And how did Parkinson’s disease start? 

Basically, Parkinson’s disease is a nervous system disorder that is in most cases age-related. In this condition, brain cells degenerate and affect movement in the human body. Individuals with Parkinson’s disease usually have shaky movement and face difficulty managing and coordinating balance in their bodies.

Parkinson's Disease Caused

It might start only with muscle stiffness or by shaky movements or tremors at an early stage. But it can gradually get worse. Patients also suffer from mental, psychological, and behavioral changes such as difficulty in speech and comprehension, depression, fatigue, memory loss, sleep problems, and anxiety.

Also, make sure to check out my post on How Is Parkinson’s Disease Diagnosed?

Research has shown that people aged above 50 usually experience Parkinson’s disease. Multiple factors can be linked to it, such as gene mutation, inheritance, exposure to trauma, toxins, environmental factors, etc.

How Is Parkinson’s Disease Caused? How Did Parkinson Disease Start?

Usually, Parkinson’s disease is caused when there is a nerve cell rupture in Basal Ganglia; it is the human brain area that controls coordination and movement. Dopamine production is hindered, which causes this impairment. 

Essential neurons of nerve cells damage or die due to it. Moreover, the body also suffers from the loss of norepinephrine, a chemical messenger present at the nerve endings. It majorly controls multiple body functions, such as heart rate and blood pressure. 

Scientists believe that this might be why the patient feels fatigued and has a sudden decrease in his blood pressure. Parkinson’s might be causing dementia because abnormal functioning of Alpha-synuclein protein in Lewy bodies is viewed. This leads to severe memory loss, and the patient might lose his thinking abilities.

How Did It Start?

Many documentation reviews that Parkinson’s disease was first clearly described in a medical diagnosis by James Parkinson in 1817. This discovery was made when Parkinson observed patients from the streets of London at a distance

It was first known as Shaking Palsy. He stated this disease in his essay called An Essay on Shaking Palsy. 

Parkinson recommended sampling the blood from the neck for the induction of inflammation and blistering on the skin as a treatment.

But soon after Parkinson’s diagnosis, John Martin Charcot and his students took a keen interest, expanded his study, and disseminated it on international platforms. He then changed its name to Parkinson’s disease. 

During his research, he distinguished between Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis, which are now considered an upgraded version of parkinsonism syndrome in the contemporary medical world. 

Back in the 19th century, it was only diagnosed with the help of empirical observation, and anticholinergic drugs were used for its treatment. After that, in 1880, William Gower, in his manual of disease of the nervous system, took 80 patients and reported that Parkinson’s was dominant in men. 

With time, more research was conducted on Parkinson’s disease, and in 1895, French neurological schools predominantly reported on it. They shared morphological details regarding different stages of this disability.

Furthermore, in 1921 Babinski discovered motor fluctuations in it. The most systematic and deep study was made in 1953 by Greenfield and Bosanquet who presented a concrete pathological analysis of brain stem lesions. 

Postural reflex impairment and unilateral lateral distinctions were discussed further in 1967 by Hoehn and Yahr.

In 1916 when influenza broke out, multiple signs of Parkinsonism were viewed in alarming numbers; the patients suffered from many ocular, behavior, and motor problems. However, most of the patients could not survive and died.

Extensive research was conducted on Parkinson’s disease along with pathogenesis in 1960. It was discovered that nerve cells present in substantia nigra produced low levels of dopamine which caused the disease. 

Explorations were made in the midbrain, and Brissaud proposed that it was due to the damage of nerve cells in the substantia nigra. 

In this era, Levodopa was discovered and administered to treat patients that had shown the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. It was discovered that Levodopa could be broken into an enzyme, Dopa decarboxylase, which has the potential to produce dopamine. 

In 1961 patients were injected with that, and it was observed that when administered with Levodopa, they could perform their motor activities quite efficiently.

Today many discoveries have been made that enhance dopamine levels, and many treatments are conducted too to treat patients with Parkinson’s disease.

Another post that will interest you is about How Do You Care For Parkinson’s Patients At Home?

Oriental References To Parkinson’s Disease

In the Indian Ayurveda and Medical System, Parkinson’s disease is referred to as Kampavata. The name came out from the Sanskrit word Kampa which means tremor. The pathogenesis was based on the concept of imbalance made in psychomotor activities. 

An analysis was made in the 15th-century classic Bhasava Rajyam, which is considered to be an ayurvedic analog to Parkinsonism. Doctors of that time treated the disease with therapeutic medications such as seeds from Macuna Pruriens and Atmagupta.

Similarly, historical references to Parkinson’s disease are also found in early medical diagnoses in China. Traditional Chinese medical sources say that this disease can be traced back to 425 BC. Furthermore, in a book named Ru Men Shi Kin, Zhang Zihe denoted the first description of Parkinson’s disease.

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