The Future of Parkinson’s Disease

The Future of Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is relatively common.  There are about one million people who have Parkinson’s disease in the United States alone.  Each year, there are about 60,000 Americans diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.  Currently, medications can cost thousands per year, and therapeutic surgeries cost even more.  Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative neurological disorder that affects neurons in charge of producing dopamine in a very specific region of the brain.  There is no cure that currently exists for Parkinson’s disease.  However, there is hope that in the future, this will change.

Parkinson’s starts slowly, then worsens with age. Symptoms tend to start with slight tremors, limb rigidity, and problems with normal walking.  These symptoms worsen as time goes on.  It is still unclear what exactly causes Parkinson’s, which has made it difficult to cure and/or prevent.  Fortunately, Parkinson’s itself is not fatal.  However, many people diagnosed with Parkinson’s noticed a heavily decreased quality of life after their diagnosis.  After being diagnosed, treatment is primarily aimed at controlling symptoms of the disease.  Each person’s experience with a Parkinson’s diagnosis is different, which means each person requires a unique treatment plan.

Diagnosing Parkinson’s is difficult initially but becomes easier as the disease progresses.  This is because there is not a singular test for Parkinson’s.  Rather, tests are based upon the severity of the symptoms.  Many patients are first diagnosed by their general practitioner and have their results confirmed by a neurology specialist.  As mentioned earlier, there is no specific treatment plan for Parkinson’s disease as a whole.  Rather, patients are treated with unique treatment plans aimed at addressing their specific symptoms.  While there are plenty of medications and therapies that exist to treat symptoms, none reverse the damage that Parkinson’s causes.  Sticking to a medication schedule is absolutely key to managing symptoms adequately.

While no cure currently exists, there is hope that there will be a cure in the future.  Many researchers are looking to stem cell therapy as a possible cure for those who have Parkinson’s disease.  The hope is that stem cells can be used to replace damaged neurons that are no longer capable of making dopamine.  This could hopefully not only reduce symptoms of Parkinson’s disease but even reverse any damage the disease has already caused.  However, science is still a long way out from stem cell therapy being accepted as a normalized treatment for Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinson’s disease can be a very difficult diagnosis for a patient and their loved ones.  As the disease progresses, Parkinson’s patients may begin to need around the clock care, which can take an emotional and mental toll on both the patient and their loved ones.  While Parkinson’s is not a fatal disease, it does greatly diminish a person’s quality of life.  For this reason, there is a significant amount of research being conducted on the disease and potential treatments and cures for the future.  While stem cell therapy may not be fully approved or normalized as a treatment for Parkinson’s currently, it does offer hope that one day there may be a cure for this terrible disease.

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