Local Specialist Warns That Early Detection is Key to Living with Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson's disease is a chronic, progressive brain and nerve disease that affects a small area of nerve cells in an area of the brain known as the substantia nigra.

These cells normally produce dopamine, a chemical that transmits signals between areas in the brain. These signals, when working normally, coordinate smooth and balanced muscle movement.

Parkinson's disease however, causes the neurons in the substantia nigra to die, leading to a lack of dopamine in the brain. The loss of dopamine makes nerve cells fire out of control, causing people to lose the ability to control their body movements normally.

There is no blood test to diagnose Parkinson's disease. It can usually be diagnosed during an office visit. Symptoms include:
·    Muscle rigidity
·    Tremors
·    Bradykinesia (the slowing down of movement and the gradual loss of spontaneous activity)
·    Changes in walking pattern and posture
·    Changes in speech and handwriting
·    Loss of balance and increased falls
·    Orthostatic hypotension

Dr. Akram Dastagir is a neurologist with the Aurora Neuroscience Research Institute.

He was a special live guest on the CBS 58 News at 4 p.m. with recommendations to combat the effects.

It's a combination of medication, physical exercise and therapies.

For Dr. Dastagir, this is personal.

His late mother had Parkinson's disease.

"Because of the fact that my mother had Parkinson's, I know first-hand how families are affected by this disease," Dr. Dastagir tells CBS 58 News. "It inspires me to help even more. 

Currently, there is no known cure for Parkinson's disease, but there is continually research being conducted working towards that goal.

World Parkinson's Day is Monday. An  annual day to increase awareness and promote the research and strides that are being made to find a cure.

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