Movement disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, ataxias, tremor, dystonia, tics, and Tourette’s, can lead to a progressive loss of functional independence.
Parkinson’s disease is a late-onset, chronic, progressive disease characterized by tremor, slowness of movement, impaired balance and coordination, and trouble walking. The disease is caused by the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells.
Other movement disorders are: Essential tremor, which results in shaking of the hands, head, and voice; and ataxias, which cause loss of muscle control in arms and legs and can affect speech and eye movements. These all are complex disorders with genetic and environmental factors contributing to their cause.
Diagnosing these conditions is often based on medical history and a physical and neurological exam. Definitive diagnosis can be difficult. For instance, many neurological disorders resemble Parkinson’s disease, making unique treatments difficult to find.
There are a number of drugs and treatments that can provide relief from the symptoms of movement disorders. There are currently no cures.
What causes the progressive loss of dopamine producing neurons?
While symptomatic treatments exist, can we develop drugs that prevent or halt the degeneration of these brain cells?
Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) is a cutting edge surgical option for certain movement disorders. Can we harness DBS for other movement disorders?