In the video â€˜My Father, My Brother, and Me which highlights the Parkinson disease, Dave Iverson seeks an answer to the mysteries surrounding Parkinson’s disease. Â
The entire video brings out concepts that are very significant presented therein. This is about the disease itself, and the debate surrounding the research and cure of the disease. Parkinson’s disease (PD) is comparatively frequent disease that affects nerves at a later stage of life. It is characterized by tremors, stiffness, sluggishness in movement and posture instability. Since 1960, much research has been done regarding the etiological factors, symptoms, diagnostic techniques, treatment and prevention of the disease. Much has been learned about the disease but still much remains a mystery. It is well understood by doctors that dopamine deficiency in the brain is the root of the matter but it is not clear as to why this initially occurs.
Parkinson’s disease is a condition associated with gradual loss of cells in the substantia nigra, which produces dopamine. Dopamine production needs Iron and Zinc as cofactors. Also, manganese is very significant for dopamine to function efficiently. Therefore, these co-factors are predictably most essential initiating PD. As a chemical messenger, dopamine transmits a signal between two regions of the brain, the substantia nigra and the corpus striatum in order to regulate muscle activity. Inefficient dopamine in the striatum makes the nerve cells in this region to â€œfireâ€ out of control and leaves the victim unable to control and direct movements in a normal manner.
Lack of these cofactors required in the formation and proper functioning of dopamine results to decreased amounts of dopamine and consequently cell damage. This is thought to characterize the initial symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Almost all patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) develop sleeping disorders with a subsequently impairing nervous system at the later stages of the disease. Eventually, other parts of the brain and the nervous system degenerate completely.
Stem cell controversy
The subject of stem cell research is inundated with a lot of debate regarding its ethicality and functionalism. One of the most controversial issuers regards the status of human embryo and the need for its destruction in the process of creating human embryonic stem cell line. This has created a wave of pro-life movement that advances the thought that embryos are certainly humans at an early stage and therefore strongly opposes the idea. In this regard, it is realized that stem cell research actually violates the sanctity of life as it kills human beings. In a way, it is worth realizing that at the embryonic stage, the human condition should still be regarded with the sense of morality that is always bestowed upon normal human beings. It is much difficult to draw the line between the embryo and a real human and this necessitates the need to just consider the embryos as already existing life.
In the context of these realizations, many challenges are then realized given the imperative need to treat the condition of Parkinson’s disease and spinal cord complications. Despite the challenge on violating the sanctity of life, it is worth noting that these conditions have to be addressed. The antipathy to the process of stem cell research has gained much root in the recent past from the pro-life and other social conservatives who claim that the process of extracting the cells from the pre-embryo amounts to murdering the person. On the other hand, so many people are also in opposition to this notion and claim that life is not yet available in the embryo at that stage.Â In any case, it does appear that much of this talk and arguments regarding the process of stem cell research can only end in the event that an alternative to the whole extraction process is unveiled. Otherwise, much of the hype will still be evidenced.
Diagnosis of PD is usually made on the basis of the clinical history of the patient and the symptoms exhibited by the patient. Symptoms like bradykinesia, tremors, stiffness and postural instability are most likely conclusive of the disease. Additionally, clinical history of the patient may also provide substantiation to the diagnosis of the disease. Most importantly, a delayed reaction to dopaminergic remedy is a distinctive feature in patients with PD.Â
Medication and Prevention Measures
There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease. Therefore, treatment measures are in accordance with the specific symptoms observed.
Comprehensively early diagnosis, exercise, good nutrition and medications, has been sited to work best in relieving the symptoms. These are some of the preventive measures used in order to prevent the occurrence of the disease (Savitt & Dawson 2006).
The following are some of the treatment measurements employed in alleviating the effects of PD;
a) Â Chemotherapy
- Levodopa (L-dopa) .Nerve cells use L-dopa to make and replenish the brain’s supply of dosamine. L-dopa is usually given alongside Carbidopa which delays the conversion of Levodopa into dopamine before it reaches the brain. This reduces the side effects of L-dopa and reduces the amount of L-dopa needed. L-dopa delays the emergence of symptoms and extends the period patients can live.
It is not performed quite often. Cryothalamotomy and Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) are the two main types of surgery performed. Cryothalamotomy refers to lesioning of the globus pallidus part of the brain. On the other hand, Deep brain stimulation (DBS), which is currently being tested, refers to transplantation of healthy dopamine-producing tissues into the brain.
c) Diet and Exercise
Much protein in the body interferes with the absorption of L-dopa and in that case, the doctor recommends the patient to take food with less protein in order to maintain muscle tone, strength and improve mobility.
In conclusion, Parkinson’s disease can be defined as a progressive neurologic disorder of unknown etiology. New developments and confirmation of diagnostic markers of PD are emerging in various areas of symptom recognition and neuroimaging. They aid in the diagnosis of patients with very early PD. Steps in neuroimaging and the new developments of quantitative biomarkers of Parkinson’s disease will improve evaluation of the neuroprotective efficacy of therapies.