Call 602-943-1111 for a referral to a John C. Lincoln neuro-specialist.
As we move, the brain, the spinal cord and muscles undertake a complex series of interactions.
Consider walking, for example — a seemingly simple activity that is nothing short of a miracle. While much of the brain is devoted to perceiving distance and obstacles in our way, a small area in the brain's center, called the substantia nigra, busily releases a chemical messenger, or neurotransmitter, known as dopamine. Charged with dopamine, nerve cells (neurons) control how our muscles move.
Yet, when the substantia nigra cannot send the appropriate levels of dopamine, muscles lose the ability to maintain balance and coordination. This is the case with Parkinson's disease, one of the movement disorders treated by John C. Lincoln's neurosciences department.
In Parkinson's, cells in the substantia nigra waste away. Dopamine levels therefore drop, leaving acetylcholine — another important neurotransmitter — to guide muscle contractions. As a result, voluntary movement becomes slowed (called bradykinesia) and rigid. Arms and legs stiffen. Tremors take over when resting. Walking is no longer a simple activity.
Caring for Parkinson's Disease
When caring for Parkinson's, the staff neurologists of John C. Lincoln are focused on treating all aspects of the disorder. Beyond problems with movement, Parkinson's can present challenges to thinking, emotions and the functioning of the autonomic nervous system, which controls heart rate, digestion, breathing and more. As we evaluate and treat the many facets of Parkinson's, we do all we can to maximize the quality of our patients' lives.
To effectively care for such a complex disease, we maintain a spirit of strong communication and collaboration throughout our hospital network — between neurologists, nurses, physical therapists and related staff. Likewise, as we provide some of the most innovative technologies and treatments, we strive to ensure comfortable and productive relationships with our patients, their families and their caregivers.
Because every case of Parkinson's is different, our neurological team does all it can to fine-tune treatments to our patients' needs. Our knowledge is matched by a willingness to listen.
Treatment Options for Parkinson's
Treatment for Parkinson's depends on the severity and stage of the disorder. Medication can greatly improve quality of life in mild and moderate cases. However, dosages are typically adjusted as the disease progresses. Meantime, surgical procedures are reserved for patients who face severe symptoms and drug-related side effects. Unfortunately, neither approach can reverse damage caused by the disease or completely eliminate symptoms.