Parkinson’s disease is caused by damage to a part of the brain called the substantia nigra and results in dopamine depletion. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter responsible for regulating movement and emotional responses. Parkinson’s disease symptoms start to develop when levels of dopamine are reduced by over 70%. There are a wide variety of symptoms that result including stiff movement, resting tremors, and depression.
The most common initial Parkinson’s disease treatment is Sinemet, which is a combination of Levodopa (L-Dopa) and Carbadopa (decarboxylase inhibitor). Typically Sinemet can ward off symptoms for only a few years before it stops working. There, however, are several treatments for Parkinson’s that can be used in addition to medication that can help maximize it’s effectiveness and reduce the damaging side effects.
Over the past several years there have been large advances in the understanding of Parkinson’s Disease. Due to this increase in knowledge of Parkinson’s Disease, there is also increased awareness that Parkinson’s Disease is more complex than previously thought. There is a need for much more research and understanding. Parkinson’s disease does not present the same for everyone. Therefore, there is a need for an individualized approach to treatment.