About a million people in the U.S. live with Parkinson’s disease, and millions more suffer from other movement disorders. They affect every aspect of your life — your job, socializing, mobility, even relaxing with your family.
But treatment for movement disorders has come a long way in the last decade, and Central Maine Healthcare is on the leading-edge of movement disorder treatment.
What Are Movement Disorders?
If you don’t have a movement disorder, you’ve seen it in others — their heads and limbs jerk or twist in an unnatural way, it may be difficult to understand their speech, and they may not be able to walk.
Parkinson’s disease is a slowly progressing disorder of the nervous system. People with Parkinson’s may not be diagnosed until years after their first symptoms appear. In addition to tremors, people with Parkinson’s also develop problems with their balance, limbs stiffening and slower movements.
Dystonia isn’t as well-known as Parkinson’s, but more than 300,000 people in the U.S. have been diagnosed to date. The muscle contractions with dystonia are different from other movement disorders, in that they cause twisting, repetitive movements. Dystonia can affect the whole body or just one limb.
Other movement disorders include:
- Cervical dystonia, causing twisting contractions of the neck muscles
- Ataxia, when the parts of the brain that control body movements don’t function correctly
- Chorea, marked by brief, irregular movements in the face, mouth, trunk and limbs
- Huntington’s disease, bringing uncontrolled movements, impaired thinking ability and psychiatric disorders
- Restless leg syndrome, when you have an urge to move your legs at night
- Tremors, rhythmic shaking of your hands, head and other body parts
- Wilson’s disease, a rare illness caused by copper build-up in your body, causing neurological problems
Treating Movement Disorders
Your movement disorder may be more easily controlled than you think. Your doctor’s first prescription is likely to be L-Dopa, an amino acid closely related to the brain chemical dopamine and the gold standard for treating Parkinson’s and dystonia, both of which respond to dopamine.
Your neurologist at Central Maine also might inject you with Botox®. Botox® temporarily paralyzes muscle activity, making it useful in controlling contractions, especially neck spasms.
Increasingly, surgeons are turning to Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS), a surgery in which electrodes are implanted in the brain. The electrodes produce electrical charges that regulate your brain’s abnormal impulses, controlled by a pacemaker-like device implanted in your chest. A tiny wire connects the “pacemaker” to the electrodes in your brain. DBS is a revolutionary new procedure whose use will go far beyond treating movement disorders; researchers are studying the possibilities of DBS for stroke recovery and dementia, among other conditions.
Central Maine Healthcare can help you minimize and control your tremors and contractions, so you can return to work and regular daily life.