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Parkinson's Disease

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The video My Father, My Brother and Me is the story of a FRONTLINE correspondent Dave Iverson. In the year 2004, Dave Iverson received the shocking news that he had Parkinson’s disease as his father and brother had earlier years ago. The Parkinson’s disease affects over a million people in the United States. The Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disease that exhibits degenerative disorders in the affected people. It is clear that its causes are still a mystery to scientists and doctors and finding them has proved a frustrating elusive. This essay aims at demystifying the major concepts that the narrator brings out on the video with regard to Parkinson’s disease, the challenges faced by scientists in finding a cure, and the controversies that have arisen in research on stem cells in role in finding a cure. Lastly the essay will find the approaches that could be used by people having Parkinson’s disease in coping with it the disease.

The narrator in the video, Iverson after being diagnosed as suffering from the Parkinson’s disease begins carrying out research in understanding the disease that had taken a toll on his family. It is on this journey that these four concepts that form the basis of this essay have come out with clarity.

It is clear that Iverson discovered that the causes of Parkinson’s are universally unknown but he sets on researching on identifying the roles those genetic proclivities and environmental toxins play as suspected causes of Parkinson’s. It is in this quest that one of the doctors suggests to Iverson that his genetic form of the Parkinson’s disease was genetically transmitted down his ancestry and possibly from one of his seafaring ancestors. Another doctor also proposes that his Parkinson’s was probably caused by MPTP, a chemical used in producing popular herbicides in the 1980s. This chemical compound was found in an exacting strain of heroin in which it exhibited Parkinson’s symptoms in the patients diagnosed as having developed reactions to it (FRONTLINE, 2012).

The second concept that comes out in the video is Iverson’s interaction with other victims of the Parkinson disease. For instance, in his conversation with writer Michael Kinsley and Michael J. Fox an actor, it is laid out that people having Parkinson caught  up in the politics of Parkinson's research and finding its cure. It is clear that Bush administration vetoed the research on the use of stem cells in finding the cure for Parkinson so the researchers lost funding from the federal. Dave Iverson notes that this decision made Parkinson disease patients to suffer and their hope in getting a cure for this disease diminished progressively for six years.  However, with the coming of a new president, Barrack Obama there is a hope that the research will again get federal funding.

The third concept that comes out in the video is the role of genetics as a cause of the Parkinson’s disease. This contrasts to previous researches carried out in this field and has nullified the role of genetics as a cause of Parkinson’s. To negate this conclusion Iverson volunteered at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville for a study on the role of genetics on Parkinson’s disease based on his family history. Six genes whose mutations are possible causes of Parkinson’s disease were identified. This identification has made possible finding of cure to Parkinson’s more optimistic than it was ten years ago. This was according to Matthew Farrer a geneticist at the mayo clinic (FRONTLINE, 2012).

The last concept in the video is the use of brain repair through surgical procedures as means of compensating the lack of dopamine that characterizes Parkinson’s disease patients. This brain repair is through fetal cell brain transplant in the patients. The use of this method to remove Parkinson’s disease is not 100% fool-proof. This is because it has resulted in disappointing results in which it has catalyzed Parkinson’s ailment in the patients after the surgery (FRONTLINE, 2012).

Over the years more and more knowledge on Parkinson’s has been garnered by scientists but the hope of finding a cure has faded all the more. This is because the information gathered has depicted the complexity eluded by Parkinson’s disease thus making it hard to find an absolute cure for the disease. However, the information has paved way for more inventive and better ways of minimizing its effects on the patients (Lichtenstein Creative Media, 2005).

L-dopa has been the major treatment drug for Parkinson’s but its continued use by the patients for long time reduces its effectiveness. This has become a big challenge in finding a cure for the disease with new methods such as implanting a pacemaker-like device in the brain in question (Lichtenstein Creative Media, 2005).

The practical difficulties that have arisen from the stem cell procedures have led to a number of leading scientists seeing the use of stem cells as no longer the cure for Parkinson’s. This is because of the complexity in using it given that the human brain is not a pincushion that scientists can keep opening and closing while plucking and putting cells in it (FRONTLINE, 2012). It is also clear that experiments carried out on stem cells have not been as successful as anticipated. This has necessitated halting the use of this procedure in treating Parkinson’s disease patients until a later date when the outcomes will be more positive.

Despite that there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, at the end of the film Iverson gives people suffering from Parkinson’s hope from unlikely place. It is clear Iverson had discovered from a new research carried out that regular exercises may help delay or slow down Parkinson’s disease from progressing in the patients. It had proved that properly designed exercise’ programs for people suffering from Parkinson’s disease would yield better results than medications and surgeries that were being given the top-notch in treating the disease.

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