Normally, the body receives that signal and responds with the movement you want. The brain chooses the neural pathway it needs to send the message further down the body, and it just happens. You don’t have to consciously tell your body to start walking, or think about it at all — it’s automatic.
If your brain experiences some damage in critical areas, those automatic signals can have difficulty getting through.
Parkinson’s Disease (PD) occurs when the area of the brain responsible for transmitting movement-related messages begins to fail, resulting in a slow degeneration of the neural pathways that the brainwaves rely on to communicate with the body.
When the cells in this important part of the brain stop working, they stop producing dopamine, which is the chemical those messages rely on to be able to reach the body for movement and coordination.
As the level of dopamine drops to where the brain no longer has enough of this chemical to consistently connect with the body, movement and coordination progressively become affected — especially smooth and automatic movement that you’ve taken for granted. These symptoms gradually worsen over time, though the symptoms themselves, and the speed of progression, vary widely from person to person.
Parkinson’s primarily affects movement, but can also cause some cognitive changes, and impact emotions. It can become more difficult to focus on more than one thing at a time, and the process of thinking may become slower. People frequently report feelings of apathy, depression and anxiety.
PD can make movement more difficult, to the extent that it significantly increases the risk of falls, 1, 2, 3 however activity itself is vital to managing the condition. In fact, exercise has been shown to slow the progression of Parkinson’s Disease 37, so finding ways to remain as active as possible, exercising regularly, is incredibly important.
NexStride: A Moving Story
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