Emotional and Mental Health

Parkinson's Disease: Historical Aspects and Current Treatment Approaches

Written by Dr. Alok Vinod Kulkarni and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.

Image: Parkinson's Disease: Historical Aspects and Current Treatment Approaches



Parkinsonism is a syndrome manifested by a combination of six cardinal features. They are:

  • Resting tremors.
  • Increased tone of the muscles (aka rigidity).
  • Slowness of movements (bradykinesia).
  • Loss of postural reflexes.
  • Bent or flexed posture.
  • Freezing of gait (aka motor blocks).

James Parkinson in 1817 wrote '' An Essay on the Shaking Palsy'' in which he described 6 cases which had a combination of the aforementioned features. He had observed these individuals on the streets of London.

Charcot in the nineteenth century acknowledged Parkinson's contribution and referred to this condition as ''maladie de Parkinson''. A century after ''An Essay on the Shaking Palsy'' was written, loss of dopaminergic cells in the substantia nigra was identified as the pathological basis of this disease.

Non-motor Manifestations of Parkinson's Disease (PD)

  • These occur in a staggering 88% of all patients, and are more troublesome than the classic features like tremors, slowness of movement and increased muscle tone.
  • Approximately, 40-48% of these patients go on to develop dementia, which is called Parkinson's Disease Dementia, or PDD.
  • Other non-motor features include excessive day-time sleepiness (narcolepsy and sleep attacks), falls, fractures, drop in blood pressure (postural hypotension), urinary incontinence, inability to articulate properly (aka dysarthria), visual and auditory hallucinations.

Neurobehavioral and Neuropsychiatric Manifestations of Parkinson's Disease

  • These impair the quality of life of the individual and need a comprehensive clinical assessment by a psychiatrist, who can effectively diagnose and offer rationalized treatment solutions.
  • These manifest as anxiety disorders, slowness of thinking, fatigue, a feeling of restlessness and inability to sit at one place (aka akathisia), fatigue, hearing of voices in isolation, and other psychotic features like delusions.

Management of the Illness

  • Modern brain imaging techniques include MRI (functional magnetic resonance), DWI (diffusion weighted imaging) and DAT (dopamine transporter) imaging scans.
  • However, like schizophrenia, parkinson's is a clinical diagnosis in the first place, and no amount of investigation can match the clinical expertise of a neuropsychiatrist or a neurophysician.

Medical and Surgical Treatments of Parkinson's Disease

  • Encourage patients to remain active and mobile.
  • Keep the patient functioning independently as long as possible.
  • Individualize therapy as there is no one-size-fits-all treatment.
  • Some commonly used drugs include Levodopa with Carbidopa or Benserazide, Bromocriptine, Entacapone, Selegiline, Tranylcypromine and Zonisamide.
  • However, these agents come with their own side-effects like causing psychosis, hallucinations, impulse-control disorders, and fluctuations in their efficacy, a feature called ''on-off'' phenomenon.
  • Surgical treatment - This is tried in treatment resistant Parkinson's Disease. The procedures include thalamotomy (removal of the thalamus), ablating a part of the brain called pallidum and subthalamic nucleus (present below the thalamus). However, these procedures have been replaced by what is called Deep Brain Stimulation, or DBS. The disadvantages of the surgical modality include invasiveness of the treatments, unclear long-term outcomes, and the economic burden on the patient.

Consult a neurologist online --> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/neurologist

Last reviewed at: 07.Sep.2018



Do you have a question on Delusions & Hallucinations or Parkinson's Disease?
* guaranteed answer within 4 hours.

Related Questions & Answers

Is it possible to identify Parkinson's disease without any test?
Query: Hi doctor, I am writing this is for my father. He is 74 years old. Now, he was diagnosed to have Parkinson’s disease. The doctor just examined and said that this is Parkinson's. Is it possible to identify without going for any tests? Will Parkinson lead to death? Is coffee better for Parkinson’s...  Read Full »
Dr. Hitesh Kumar

Answer: Hello, Welcome to icliniq.com. The diagnosis of Parkinson's disease is usually clinical diagnosis. In doubtful cases, a DOPA-PET scan of the brain can be considered. Parkinson's disease does not cause death, but it can affect daily living to much extent and make patient dependent. Yes,...  Read Full »
Can viral fever lead to Parkinson's disease?
Query: Hello doctor,I had a viral fever six years back. I had a very high temperature of 105, bad cough, also hallucinations. I was seen in the hospital by a CDC doctor and was told I needed to see him a month after I got out of the hospital. I saw him and asked him what I had, and got no answer what so ev...  Read Full »
Dr. Muhammad M. Hanif Md.

Answer: Hi, Welcome to icliniq.com. I want to assure you that do not worry as everything is going to be fine if proper care and treatment is opted in for. I have thoroughly gone through your case and can well understand your genuine health concerns.  Read Full »
I have tremors and fatigue which improve with Iron and worsen with periods. Please advise.
Query: Hi doctor, I am just wondering if it is possible to have neurological symptoms with low ferritin levels. My hemoglobin is 13, but the last check on ferritin said it was 5.3. I am suffering severe internal tremors, fatigue, cold hands and feet and weak shaking legs. My symptoms improve while on a s...  Read Full »
Dr. Smrita Singh

Answer: Hello, Welcome to icliniq.com. A low ferritin can cause fatigue and weakness. A full iron deficiency panel needs to be done. This includes: CBC (complete blood count) Differentials. Hemoglobin. RBC (Red blood cell). Hematocrit. RDW-CV. MCV. MCH. Serum iron. TIBC (total iron binding capacity). Satura...  Read Full »

Ask a Doctor Online

* guaranteed answer within 4 hours

Related Tags