Parkinson's Disease: Update 2008
Parkinson's Disease (PD) is referred to as a motor system disorder resulting from loss of dopamine-producing brain cells. PD usually impacts people over age 50, but can sometimes affect younger people as well. Diagnosis of PD is based on clinical signs and symptoms, there are no objective tests (blood tests, radiographic studies, etc.) of PD. The four primary symptoms of PD include:
- Tremor/trembling in hands, arms, legs, jaw, and face.
- Rigidity, or stiffness of the limbs and trunk.
- Bradykinesia, or slowness of movement.
- Postural instability, or impaired balance and coordination.
Although there are no cures for PD, some medications are quite useful in controlling the primary symptoms.
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) was approved (2002) by the FDA to treat PD in cases where the approved medicines fail to give relief. DBS requires electrodes to be implanted in the brain. The electrodes deliver a signal from a pulse generator and DBS has been referred to as a "pacemaker for the brain." In July 2008, Medical News Today reported that Douglas Anderson, MD, (Neurosurgeon, Loyola University, Chicago) was among the first neurosurgeons to treat PD via DBS. To date, he has treated some 50 PD patients with DBS. DBS has been used to treat PD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, body dysmorphic disorder, and debilitating headaches. Although not a cure, DBS can reduce symptoms of PD, particularly tremors, and DBS can also reduce rigidity and dyskinesias.
Douglas L. Beck, AuD, Board Certified in Audiology, is the Web content editor for the American Academy of Audiology.
For More Information, References and Recommendations:
Medical News Today. July 3, 2008. Pacemaker for the Brain.
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
American Parkinson Disease Association
135 Parkinson Avenue
Staten Island, NY 10305-1425
National Parkinson Foundation
1501 N.W. 9th Avenue
Bob Hope Road
Miami, FL 33136-1494
P.O. Box 308
Kingston, NJ 08528-0308
Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research
Grand Central Station
P.O. Box 4777
New York, NY 10163
Parkinson's Disease Foundation (PDF)
New York, NY 10018
1170 Morse Avenue
Sunnyvale, CA 94089-1605