There Are Stark Differences Between Cerebral Palsy and Parkinson’s Disease.
Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder which usually affects certain individuals over the age of 60. This condition is characterized by movement difficulties such as a shuffling gait, memory problems, tremors and stiffness. Despite the advances made in medicine, there is no definitive test for Parkinson’s, and most individuals who suffer from it may not get a cure.
Parkinson’s is mostly seen in the elderly; however, it’s not unheard of the condition affecting people who are as young as 20. Genetics, environment and stress all play a part in the development of the disorder.
The Biology Behind Parkinson’s
Parkinson’s affects the part of the brain associated with the production of dopamine, a brain chemical partially responsible for movement and motivation. When the cells in this part of the brain begin to die, the brain’s production of dopamine declines. If left untreated, the disorder may progress to a point where the individual moves in a very slow manner, or experiences severe tremors. They may also have difficulty swallowing, moving their limbs and episodes where they experience explosions of anger. Statistics state that 1 million people are afflicted by Parkinson’s in America, and 5 million have the condition around the world.
Fasciculation (Muscle Twitches)
People with Parkinson’s and cerebral palsy alike may suffer from a condition called fasciculation. This is a small and local involuntary muscle twitch that may be idiopathic in nature in most people. In fact, most people who go through instances of stressful periods may get these muscle twitches. As you may know, people born with cerebral palsy may experience fasciculation quite often. Many people automatically associate this muscle twitch with Parkinson’s disease, and herein lies the confusion.
To further separate the two disorders, remember that cerebral palsy is a motor neuron disorder that occurs due to damage to the brain. Most people who are afflicted with cerebral palsy get it before, during or shortly after birth, due to brain trauma caused by improper birthing techniques or infection within the womb during the pregnancy period. Parkinson’s is a degenerative disorder which usually manifests itself much later in life.