Bradykinesia

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Bradykinesia is a primary symptom of Parkinson’s disease that largely affects individuals above the age of 60. Read and know all about the symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatment of this condition.

Bradykinesia Definition

It is characterized by slow, painful movements and reflexes. In this condition, the body loses its ability to respond immediately to a stimulus, causing partial paralysis.

Bradykinesia Symptoms

The involuntary or instantaneous movements as a part of a reflex action are almost absent in the affected individuals. Ailing patients have an impaired ability to adjust the position of the body. There is an extensive loss of muscular control and carrying out simple activities becomes difficult. This particular condition, in conjunction with stiffness, can affect the facial muscles resulting in an expressionless or stony face. However, the degree of impairment varies from one individual to another.

Bradykinesia Causes

This movement disorder is common to many neurodegenerative illnesses and belongs to the family of Hypokinesia, a condition marked by diminished motor function or activity. As aforementioned, in most cases, the condition has been associated with Parkinson’s disease in which there is a progressive deterioration of the nervous system. Frequent episodes of tremor, muscular rigidity, and slow, improper movement are some its main clinical features.

The primary stage of Parkinson’s disorder is generally manifested by imprecise voluntary and involuntary motor functions on one side of the body. Medical experts believe that basal ganglia dysfunction could contribute to impaired self-paced movements.

The basal ganglia situated in the base of the brain comprise of clusters of neurons, responsible for a variety of functions including voluntary motor control. The neurotransmitter dopamine plays an important role in basal ganglia function. It normally acts as a messenger between two specific regions of the brain to produce smooth, controlled movements.

In this condition, however, deficiency of the substance due to the loss of dopamine-producing cells causes miscommunication and leads to motor-related symptoms. Slowness in movement and the execution of activities may even occur as a side effect of some clinical drugs such as:

  • Dopamine receptor antagonists or blockers
  • Chlorpromazine
  • Haloperidol
  • Thioridazine
  • Antidepressants

Bradykinesia Diagnosis

There are no standard diagnostic tests available for detecting this neurological disorder. Physical observation of patients may help in determining the severity of the condition. Diagnosing the early phase of Parkinson’s disorder is difficult as symptoms like tremor, stiffness and slow movement are not quite significant. An analysis of the medical history of patients may reveal early cases of the disorder in other family members. Doctors must also be informed of any previous use of medications or exposure to toxins. A thorough neurological examination may aid in evaluating the degree of coordination of various movements. An MRI or CT scan of the brain may show the degenerated regions of the brain as well as any tumor or cortical stroke.

Bradykinesia Treatment

Although the condition does not have any curative options, certain treatment options may help in improving the motor symptoms. So far, administration of Levodopa has proved to be beneficial to the sufferers. Once the drug enters the body, it gets converted into large amounts of dopamine. Prolonged intake of this medication can give rise to side effects like:

  • Nausea
  • Mood swings
  • Uncontrolled movements
  • Anxiety

For this reason, Levodopa is often prescribed together with carbidopa, which prevents the former from getting dissociated before it reaches the brain. Deep brain stimulation can be performed to inactivate the areas of the brain causing the impaired movements and alleviating the symptoms.

 

Bradykinesia is an effect of Parkinson’s disease which needs prompt diagnosis. However, it is nearly impossible to determine the progression of this disorder. Various treatment methods can delay the onset of the motor symptoms and improve the quality of life of a patient.

References:

http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=11054

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypokinesia

http://parkinsons.about.com/od/glossary/g/bradykinesia.htm

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