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Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital now offers the Gamma Knife, a noninvasive treatment for Parkinson's disease.
Parkinson's disease (PD or, simply, Parkinson's) is the most common form of parkinsonism, a group of motor system disorders. It is a slowly progressing, degenerative disease that is usually associated with the following symptoms, all of which result from the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells:
It is incorrectly believed that Parkinson's disease disappeared after the introduction of levodopa (L-dopa) in the 1960s. In fact, about 50,000 Americans are newly diagnosed with Parkinson's disease each year, with more than half a million Americans affected at any one time. Further, more people suffer from Parkinson's disease than multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis combined.
The specific cause of PD is unknown, however, medical experts believe the symptoms are related to a chemical imbalance in the brain caused by brain-cell death. Parkinson's disease is chronic (persists over a long period of time) and progressive (symptoms grow worse over time).
Although the disease may appear in younger patients (even teenagers), it usually affects people in late middle age. The disease affects men and women in almost equal numbers. It is not contagious, nor is it likely passed on from generation to generation.
Parkinson's disease is also called primary parkinsonism or idiopathic Parkinson's disease. (Idiopathic is the term for a disorder for which no cause has yet been identified).
In the other forms of parkinsonism, either the cause is known or suspected, or the disorder occurs as a secondary effect of another primary neurological disorder that may have both primary and secondary symptoms of Parkinson's disease. These disorders, described as Parkinson's Syndrome, Atypical Parkinson's, or, simply, parkinsonism, may include the following:
The following are the most common symptoms of Parkinson's disease. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
Symptoms of Parkinson's disease vary from patient to patient. The symptoms may appear slowly and in no particular order. Early symptoms may be subtle and may progress over many years before reaching a point where they interfere with normal daily activities. These often include the following:
As the disease progresses, walking may become affected, causing the patient to stop in mid-stride or "freeze" in place, and maybe even fall over. Patients also may begin walking with a series of quick, small steps as if hurrying forward to keep balance, a practice known as festination.
The symptoms of Parkinson's disease may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.
Specific treatment for Parkinson's disease will be determined by your physician based on:
With today's medicine, we have yet to find a cure for Parkinson's disease. However, based upon the severity of the symptoms and medical profile, the physician will establish an appropriate treatment protocol. Treatment for Parkinson's disease may include the following:
Interested in learning more about Gamma Knife treatment at Robert Wood Johnson?
Click here to request more info or an appointment online or call us at (732) 418-8002.