Magazine article Nutrition Health Review

Understanding Neurological Disorders: Parkinson's Disease and Multiple Sclerosis

Magazine article Nutrition Health Review

Understanding Neurological Disorders: Parkinson's Disease and Multiple Sclerosis

Article excerpt

Parkinson's disease is a motor system disorder caused by a loss of dopamine-producing brain cells. This loss results in trembling of the hands, arms, legs, jaw, and face--known as tremors--postural instability, impaired balance and coordination, and slowness of movement. Parkinson's most commonly affects people over the age of 60. The disease generally progresses slowly over time, but some cases progress more quickly than others.

Sources: 1) Parkinson's Disease Information Page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Accessed Dec 12, 2017; 2) Dr. Chauncey Spears. 10 Early Signs of Parkinson's Disease. Parkinson's Foundation. Accessed Dec 12, 2017.

Signs of Parkinson's Disease

* Slight shaking or tremor in the fingers, thumb, hands, or chin

* Decreased size of handwriting, called micrographia

* Loss of smell

* Thrashing in bed or acting your dreams when deeply asleep

* Newfound stiffness in the body, especially when walking

* Constipation

* A softened or low voice

* A "masked face," or a look of seriousness or anger even when you're not in a bad mood

The Effects of Exercise on Parkinson's Disease

A review of published in Lancet Neurology in 2013 sought to highlight the potential role of exercise in promoting neuroplasticity and repair in Parkinson's disease. Specific exercises recommended for people with Parkinson's disease include goal-based motor skill training in order to engage cognitive circuitry that is essential to motor learning. This style of exercise can help people with Parkinson's maintain control of movements and motor skills that are threatened by the disease. In addition, the ability of cardiovascular exercise to increase neuroplasticity holds true for those with Parkinson's and is recommended as an essential facet of the exercise approach. Studies on exercise and Parkinson's have shown success in patients participating in exercises such as low- and high-intensity treadmill training, Tai Chi, tango dancing, boxing, and cycling. People with Parkinson's should speak to their doctor and a physical therapist in order to create an exercise plan that is optimal and safe for their individual condition.

Source: Petzinger GM. Exercise-enhanced neuroplasticity targeting motor and cognitive circuitry in Parkinson's disease. Lancet Neurol. 2013 Jul;12(7):716-26.

Understanding Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Identifying the Symptoms

Multiple sclerosis (MS) occurs when an abnormal immune response causes the body's immune system to attack the central nervous system, made up of the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. Specifically, the immune system attacks the fatty substance surrounding and insulating nerve fibers, called myelin, along with the nerve fibers themselves. This causes nerve impulses traveling to and from the brain and spinal cord to be distorted or interrupted, which in turn produces the symptoms of MS. MS does not progress in a constant manner; the disease follows one of four disease courses, or phenotypes, and each course is unique in the way that active periods, or periods of disease worsening (called "attacks" or "flare-ups"), and stable periods are structured. Severity of the disease ranges from mild, to moderate, to severe.

Signs and Symptoms

* First symptoms to arise include tingling of the face, body, and limbs, as well as problems with vision

* Fatigue

* Muscle weakness

* Dizziness, vertigo, and loss of balance

* Muscle spasms

* Bladder, bowel, and sexual dysfunction

* Emotional changes, mood swings, and depression

* Difficulties with memory, problem-solving, focus, and perception

Source: National Multiple Sclerosis Society (https://www. …

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