April: Parkinson’s Awareness Month

April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month! So many people are unaware of Parkinson’s disease because it does not affect them or anyone they know personally. Michael J. Fox has been the face of Parkinson’s Disease for many years. You may know Michael J. Fox from the sitcom Family Ties or the movie Back to the Future. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 1992 and has been fighting ever since. He has not fought alone. Nearly 1 million people in the US are suffering from Parkinson’s Disease, and there are approximately 60,000 new cases yearly (Parkison’s Disease Foundation). Neurology is the field of medicine that treats this disease. As you understand Parkinson’s Disease, you can also learn a lot about Neurology and the practice of neurologists.

When it relates to Parkinson’s Disease, you probably have many questions as far as the progression of the disease as well as causes. That is what Parkinson’s Awareness Month is all about, answering your Parkinson’s questions. Parkinson’s is a neurological movement disorder. It is a genetic disease that is passed down through the generations. It can also be triggered environmentally with the intake or exposure to toxic substances. The neurons in the body begin to break down, and it affects the transport of signals to the brain. Another precursor to the problem is what’s called Lewy bodies. These are microscopic particles found in the brain. They can be made up of different things, but as it relates to Parkinson’s, Alpha-synuclein protein has been found to be the main substance. Parkinson’s typically starts as a tremor and progresses to the inability to control the movement of your whole body. Although there is no cure, there are medications available to control your symptoms.

Symptoms of Parkinson’s progress from mild to severe over time. Symptoms start with a small tremor in the extremities. It may be your leg, arm, fingers, or toes. You may have some trouble speaking; there will be times where your speech is slurred. Stiffness in your muscles is common. Posture and balance become an issue. As the disease progresses, your whole body will begin to tremor. This affects your ability to write and do your normal daily activities like eating, putting on clothes, and going to the bathroom.

Neurology is a wide field that not only treats Parkinson’s but other neurological disorders. Neurologists treat all types of nervous system conditions. Neurology is a challenging field because many diseases within this field of medicine can only be treated but not entirely cured. Neurons are not like other cells in the body. If you get a cut or break a bone, your body heals by making new skin cells and bone cells, respectively. Neurons cannot be remade. This makes finding a cure for neurological disorders difficult. Here are a few disorders neurologists treat that you probably had no clue

  • Sleep Disorders
    • Insomnia
    • Sleep apnea
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Essential tremors
  • Migraines
  • Epilepsy
  • Stroke
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Brain Tumors
  • Parkinson’s Disease

You may have initially been interested in this blog to learn about Parkinson’s Disease, but hopefully, you have learned something about the field of Neurology. You may have been suffering from one of these conditions above and had no clue you needed a neurologist. Neurology is a wonderful field. As you educate yourself more on Parkinson’s Disease, hopefully, you gain an awareness of the field of Neurology.