Parkinsons Disease Support Group
1200 Raintree Drive
Fort Collins, CO 80524
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- (970) 223-8242
Parkinson's disease (paralysis agitans or PD) is a movement disorder often characterized by muscle rigidity, tremor, a slowing of physical movement (bradykinesia), and in extreme cases, a loss of physical movement (akinesia). The primary symptoms of Parkinsons are due to excessive muscle contraction, normally caused by the insufficient formation and action of dopamine, which is produced in the dopaminergic neurons of the brain. Parkinson's disease was first formally recognised and its symptoms documented in 1817 in An Essay on the Shaking Palsy by the British physician Dr James Parkinson; the associated biochemical changes in the brain of patients were identified in the 1960s.
Parkinson disease affects movement (motor symptoms). Typical other symptoms include disorders of mood, behavior, thinking, and sensation (non-motor symptoms). Individual patients' symptoms may be quite dissimilar; progression is also distinctly individual. There are four major dopamine pathways in the brain; the nigrostriatal pathway, referred to above, mediates movement and is the most conspicuously affected in early Parkinson's disease. The other pathways are the mesocortical, the mesolimbic, and the tuberoinfundibular. These pathways are associated with, respectively: volition and emotional responsiveness; desire, initiative, and reward; and sensory processes and maternal behavior. Reduction in dopamine along the non-striatal pathways is the likely explanation for much of the neuropsychiatric pathology associated with Parkinson's disease.
The most widely used form of treatment is L-dopa in various forms. L-dopa is transfomed into dopamine in the dopaminergic neurons by L-aromatic amino acid decarboxylase (often known by its former name dopa-decarboxylase). However, only 1-5% of L-DOPA enters the dopaminergic neurons. The remaining L-DOPA is often metabolised to dopamine elsewhere, causing a wide variety of side effects. Due to feedback inhibition, L-dopa results in a reduction in the endogenous formation of L-dopa, and so eventually becomes counterproductive.
Support group for people with Parkinsons disease and their caregivers. Guest speakers cover various aspects of Parkinson disease. Every 3 or 4 months caregivers and Parkinson patients break out into facilitated support groups for discussion. Books and videos available on loan.