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Neurological disorders, which are diseases that affect the brain, spine, and nerves, can range in type and severity among the world’s population.  Some of the most prevalent disorders include Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, and Huntington’s Disease.  Despite being familiar with these diseases, many people may think that it is rare to be diagnosed with such a neurological disorder.  However, Alzheimer’s affects over 5 million Americans, Parkinson’s affects over 1 million Americans, and Huntington’s affects over 30,000 Americans.  Both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s have multiple possible causes, and while some treatments exist for all of these disorders, these treatments only slow disease progression, and do not truly treat the disorder (Alzheimer’s Assoc., 2016).

Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease commonly develops in patients 60 years or older and is correlated with a mutation in the Apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene, as well as others.  However, some people show signs of early-onset Alzheimer’s and develop symptoms between 30 and 60 years of age.  The first sign of Alzheimer’s is a decline in cognition.  A person with mild Alzheimer’s will start wandering and getting lost more frequently, find themselves repeating questions, and may show some personality changes.  As the disease progresses to a more moderate form, they will begin to have trouble recognizing friends and family and may start having hallucinations and delusions.  This can then progress to a severe form where they can no longer communicate and find themselves completely dependent on others for their care.  There is currently no treatment for Alzheimer’s that will reverse the effects; however, researchers are learning more about the areas of the brain affected by this disease in order to provide more useful treatments.  They have found plaques and tangles in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients that may contribute to the destruction of nerve cells, resulting in brain degeneration.  Plagues are deposits of the protein beta amyloid that build up between nerve cells, and tangles are twisted fibers of the protein tau that build up within the cells (NIA, 2016).

Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a movement disorder with no known cause.  It is both chronic and progressive, and has been shown to affect the neurons in the substantia nigra in the brain.  This causes a decrease in the levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter necessary for everyday function.  The most common symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are tremors, bradykinesia, and postural instability.  However, according to Braak’s hypothesis, the earliest signs may not involve movement functions.  These signs occur due to a dysfunction in the enteric nervous system and can include loss of smell, sleep disorders, and constipation.  Depending on the severity of the disease and the person’s genetic make-up, there are a variety of medications to treat Parkinson’s.  These medications will not reverse the effects, but they will lessen the severity and allow the person to live more independently (NPF, 2016).

Huntington’s Disease

Huntington’s disease is a genetic disorder. Symptoms of this disease normally start appearing between 30 to 50 years of age.  The initial signs of this disorder include personality changes, forgetfulness, weight loss, and loss of motor control.  Everyone has the gene that causes Huntington’s disease; however, only those that inherit the expansion of this gene will develop the symptoms.  Since the genetic disposition of this disease is known, it can be diagnosed before the symptoms appear.  If someone knowns they have the expansion of the gene, they can go through genetic testing while pregnant to determine if their child will develop Huntington’s disease.  Like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, there is still no cure, but there are treatments to make living with the disease easier.  Some of the most common ones include medications such as Tetrabenazine, which suppresses involuntary movements, or therapies to relearn how to complete everyday tasks (Huntington’s Disease Soc., 2016).

The information above introduced three neurological disorders, and focused on ones that have a greater effect on older people.  For this discussion, research a neurological disorder that appears more frequently in young adults or adolescents and explain that disorder.  Also discuss any known causes, symptoms, and treatments.

References:

@ParkinsonDotOrg. “National Parkinson Foundation: Believe in Better.”

National Parkinson Foundation

. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 2016.

“Alzheimer’s Disease & Dementia | Alzheimer’s Association.”

Alzheimer’s Disease & Dementia | Alzheimer’s Association

. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 2016.

“Alzheimer’s Disease Fact Sheet | National Institute on Aging.”

U.S National Library of Medicine

. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 2016.

“What Is Huntington’s Disease?”

Huntingtons Disease Society of America What Is HD Comments

. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 2016.

  
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