What Is A Neurological Disorder?
Put simply, neurological disorders are diseases that affect the brain, spine or the nervous system that connect them. There are more than 600 neurological disorders like migraine, memory problems, tumours, aneurysms, spine-related conditions, movement disorders, stroke and developmental problems in children like autism.
Neurological disorders can also be caused due to trauma (accidents/ falls etc.) and unhealthy habits. Most of these problems require medical or surgical management.
Common Neurological Disorders
Movement Disorders refer to a group of neurological conditions that cause abnormal voluntary or involuntary movements, or slow, reduced movements.
It’s like this: the parts of your body move when you don’t want them to and you can’t do anything about it. Dyskinesia or abnormal, uncontrolled movement is a common symptom in many movement disorders. Dyskinesia also includes tremors.
Causes Of Movement Disorders
Every single body movement, right from moving a finger to smiling involves complex interactions between the central nervous system, nerves and muscles. A movement disorder arises when there is a damage/ malfunction in the brain, spinal cord or nervous system.
Movement disorders vary according to the area of damage and range from temporary hiccups to Parkinson Disease – a serious, progressive disease that impairs the ability to speak, use the hands, walk, and maintain balance when standing.
Damage to the parts of the brain that control voluntary movements or the connections between the brain and spinal cord leads to weakness or paralysis of the muscles involved.
Damage to the basal ganglia (collections of nerve cells located at the base of the cerebrum) leads to involuntary or decreased movements. There is no weakness or changes in reflexes.
Damage to the cerebellum leads to loss of coordination.
Certain movement disorders can be medically managed, while conditions like Parkinson’s Disease may require advanced procedures like Deep Brain Stimulation for better outcomes.
The most common form of dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease usually sets in after the age of 60. Earlier onset of the disease isn’t uncommon as well; 5%of those with AD are people in their 40-s and 50-s.
The first sign of Alzheimer’s disease is loss of memory function – the inability to memorise newly learned information and experiences. This worsens with time, and they lose the ability to carry on a normal conversation and respond to the environment. They also present symptoms like disorientation, mood and behaviour changes; deepening confusion about events, time and place; unfounded suspicions about family, friends and caregivers. Emotions, inhibitions, cognition, mobility, ability to eat and swallow too get deteriorate over time, leaving the person with almost zero capabilities to cope up with life.
Alzheimer’s: Risk Factors
Presently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s. However, a combination of drugs and non-drug treatments may help in improving cognitive and behavioral symptoms.
Our body movements are regulated by a portion of the brain called the basal ganglia. The cells here require a n optimum balance of two chemicals - dopamine and acetylcholine - both of which help in transmission of nerve impulses. When a person has Parkinson’s, the cells that produce dopamine begin to degenerate, throwing these two neurotransmitters off balance. Researchers also say that genetics too may be a possible reason for this breakdown.
In extremely rare instances, Parkinson’s Disease may be caused by a viral infection or exposure to toxins like pesticides, carbon monoxide or the metal manganese.
Parkinson’s Disease is a form of Parkinsonism - a term used to refer to the set of symptoms associated with Parkinson’s Disease. The other causes of Parkinsonism include:
Parkinsonism is also seen in persons with neurological conditions including Alzheimer’s, Lewy body disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Wilson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease.
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