Hope on the Horizon For Parkinson’s Patients?

Michael, a former client of Louisiana Disability Law, and someone very close to us has suffered from Parkinson’s for almost a decade.  Michael was a fun-loving, retired oil field engineer when he first was diagnosed with Parkinson’s.  He first started noticing his symptoms when he struggled to buckle his seat belt and had difficulty maintaining his balance while walking.  In his early 60s now, Michael has tried multiple treatments from medications to electrical brain stimulation to lessen the effect of Parkinson’s on his life. Our team at Louisiana Disability Law recently read an article that offers more hope for curing or at least treating the muscle rigidity that is often the most well-known symptom of Parkinson’s.

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive nervous system disorder affecting how a person moves, speaks, and writes.  Parkinson’s sufferers often deal with bradykinesia, stiffness, muscle atrophy, and loss of other senses including smell.

About one million people in the United States are believed to live with Parkinson’s and another 60,000 are diagnosed each year.  For most individuals, symptoms start around age 50 but can start earlier. 

Louisiana Disability Law has represented numerous, hard-working folks dealing with Parkinson’s disease.  From welders to oil-field workers to engineers, our experience with Parkinson’s runs across multiple occupations. 

While insufficient levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter, are known as a cause of Parkinson’s disease, doctors do not know precisely what causes the motor problems.  Recent research has challenged long-held theories on the cause of the motor problems.

A new study found that hyperactivity in the ventrolateral thalamic neurons seemed to cause muscular rigidity and contractions.  The researchers termed the phenomenon “rebound firing.”  The researchers found that rodents with low levels of dopamine but no rebound firing had normal movement and no Parkinson’s disease symptoms. 

The researchers concluded that basal ganglia inhibitory input generates hyperactive motor signals in the thalamus and in excess cause Parkinson’s disease-like motor abnormalities. 

The researchers are hopeful that the study leads to more effective treatments without the use of L-Dopa.

The entire study, titled: Inhibitory Basal Ganglia Inputs Induce Excitatory Motor Signals in the Thalamus is published in the journal Neuron. 

Our team hopes, for Michael’s sake and for all other Parkinson’s sufferers, that this study leads to new and improved treatments that give Michael and others relief from some of the more devastating impacts of Parkinson’s.

[Names and details of former client and occupation may be changed or modified, and/or combined with other clients/occupations for ease of presentation and to maintain anonymity.]

Loyd J. Bourgeois
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Disability and Personal Injury Attorney
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