Parkinson’s disease

Parkinson’s disease (or Parkinson’s) is a neurological disease of those parts of the brain which control movement. The disease is characterised by a lack of the messenger substance Dopamine in the brain, which results in muscle tremors at rest, decelerated motion sequences and stiffness of the muscles. Medication is used to treat Parkinson's disease and in certain cases targeted neurosurgical procedures are used.

Parkinson’s disease is named after the man who discovered it, the English doctor James Parkinson. Parkinson's disease is one of the most common neurological diseases and occurs primarily in people of an advanced age. It is a neurodegenerative disease in which there is a loss of nerve cells in the brain. Nerve cells which produce the messenger substance Dopamine are affected in particular. The resulting lack of Dopamine causes various muscular and movement disorders. No one knows exactly why there is a loss of brain cells. Apart from a certain genetic predisposition, factors which cause chronic damage to the brain cells can play a role as well. For example, drugs, inflammation or recurrent micro injuries (e.g. during boxing).

Parkinson’s disease can progress very differently and not all sufferers experience the same degree of symptoms. A typical symptom of Parkinson’s disease is the muscle twitching at rest (rest tremor), which disappears with targeted movement. In addition, the tension situation of the muscles is increased (rigour). Fluid motion sequences are slower (bradykinesis, akinesis). Those affected often suffer from painful muscle cramps, mood fluctuations (depression), sleeping and blood pressure problems, and they have difficulty regulating their body temperature.

Parkinson’s disease is diagnosed on the basis of the patient’s medical history, the symptoms and with the help of different examinations. They include neurological examinations such as an MRI of the brain. Improvement of the symptoms after administering dopamine is a further diagnosis criterion.

Parkinson's disease is initially treated with medication. In this way, the disease can be well handled over many years. However, the medication usually becomes less effective after a few years. Then the dose requires adjustment. If medical treatment is no longer sufficient, neurosurgical procedures may bring the desired success. This involves stimulation of targeted areas in the brain which are affected by Parkinson’s disease.