Different Forms of Parkinsonism

Parkinsonism is any condition that causes a combination of the movement abnormalities seen in Parkinson’s disease — such as tremors, slow movement, impaired speech or muscle stiffness — especially resulting from the loss of dopamine-containing nerve cells (neurons).

Most people with a form of Parkinsonism have idiopathic Parkinson’s disease, also known as Parkinson’s. Idiopathic means that the cause is unknown. Not everyone who has Parkinsonism has Parkinson’s disease. People who are not diagnosed with idiopathic Parkinsonism yet are showing symptoms of Parkinsonism may have another form or type of Parkinsonism.

Forms of Parkinsonism that are currently recognized include:-

Multiple System Atrophy (MSA) This condition used to be known as Striatonigral degeneration, Shy-Drager syndrome, or Olivopontocerebellar atrophy. Both MSA and Parkinson’s disease cause slow movement and stiffness in the early stages. People with MSA can also develop other symptoms such as incontinence, difficulty with swallowing and dizziness.

Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP) This condition is sometimes called Steele-Richardson-Olszewski syndrome. PSP occurs when brain cells in certain parts of the brain are damaged as a result of a build-up of a protein called tau. It is a rare and progressive condition that can cause problems with movement, balance, mobility, speech and vision.

Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus; The brain and spinal cord are surrounded by a clear fluid called cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Hydrocephalus is a condition in which there is too much CSF in the ventricles. The ventricles are the cavilies of the brain where the CSF is stored. The condition occurs when the natural system for draining and absorbing extra CSF does not work right. The symptoms of Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus mainly affect the lower half of the body.

Vascular or Arteriosclerotic Parkinsonism; Vascular, or arteriosclerotic, Parkinsonism (VP) is one of the atypical forms of Parkinsonism. The most important risk factors for developing VP are hypertension and diabetes, but a cerebrovascular accident (CVA or Stroke), cardiac disease or carotid artery pathology are probably also involved in the development of VP. The symptoms of this condition are often the same as for normal pressure hydrocephalus.

In case of any of the above symptoms, you should be referred to a Parkinson’s specialist for proper diagnosis. They will look at your medical history and carry out a detailed neurological interview and medical examination.

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Hellen Mwithiga

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