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Aggressive Form of Parkinson's Disease

By Lindsay Boyers ; Updated August 14, 2017

Parkinson’s disease belongs to a class of diseases called motor system disorders. Motor system disorders are classified by the loss of brain cells that produce the neurotransmitter dopamine. Parkinson’s disease is a progressive condition, which means that it gets worse over time. Aggressive Parkinson’s disease is a form of the disease that causes a rapid deterioration of motor system function.

Dopamine

Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that allow the transmission of nerve signals from one neuron to the next over the synapse, which is the space between neurons. Dopamine is a specific neurotransmitter that affects the brain processes that control emotional responses, interpretations of pleasure and pain and movement, according to the University of Texas. Neurons that contain dopamine are located in clusters in a section of the brain called the midbrain. In those with aggressive Parkinson’s disease, this section of the brain is rapidly destroyed and the dopamine-containing neurons die. Because of this, those with aggressive Parkinson’s disease have little to no dopamine in the brain.

Causes

Parkinson’s disease is believed to develop as a result of a combination of genetic and environmental factors. MayoClinic.com states that researchers have found specific gene mutations that are identical in patients with Parkinson’s disease. Exposure to certain toxins and viruses is also thought to contribute to the development of Parkinson’s disease.

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Symptoms

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the four primary symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are tremors, rigidity, bradykinesia, which is slow movement, and instability. Tremors usually begin as a slight trembling in the hands, arms, legs, jaw and face. Those with aggressive Parkinson’s disease will start with slight trembling that develops into severe shaking. Rigidity is often seen as stiffness in the limbs and the trunk. As aggressive Parkinson’s disease becomes worse, those with the condition often have difficulty walking and talking. Other symptoms include depression, difficulty swallowing, constipation and skin problems.

Treatment

There is no cure for aggressive Parkinson’s disease, but medications can help control some of the symptoms. Medications used for Parkinson’s disease work by increasing the amount of dopamine produced in the brain. Physical therapy is also used for those with Parkinson’s disease in an attempt to regain and maintain normal movement. In severely aggressive forms of Parkinson’s disease, an electrode may be placed into the brain to control muscle movement.

Prognosis

Parkinson’s disease is a chronic condition, which means that it cannot be cured. Some people with Parkinson’s disease experience only minor disruptions in daily life due to symptoms; however, those with aggressive forms of Parkinson’s disease usually become severely disabled and may require the use of a wheelchair.

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