I wanted to post some information that I created relative to Health apps on Smart phones. I follow a social media site called Myparkinsonsteam.com. It is basically a support type site for anyone with PD. Since I am having a relatively good day today, I want to take advantage of it and post some information about the disease for those who may not be familiar with it.
There is no known cause for Parkinson’s. What is known is that a reduction in the production of dopamine in the brain leads to a reduced ability of the brain to pass data to the nervous system via the neurons. Why the body stops or looses its ability to produce dopamine is not clear. The gold standard drug for treatment is carbodopa-levodopa which trys to counteract the loss of natural dopamine. However, over time the drug loses effectiveness and tremors increase in intensity.
Recent research into chemicals used in crop production by farmers seems to point to long term exposure to them as a cause. If you watch TV at all, you will see many adds from lawyers trying to take on farm clients who have worked with the chemical paraquat, and now have PD. I haven’t seen any 100% definitive proof this chemical is a valid contributor to PD, but the lawyers seem to have data making a strong case for it.
In my own case, I worked in a large manufacturing plant in Ohio for almost twenty years. The environment was anything but clean. We brought raw steel and cast iron stock in the back door; machined it into finished parts, and shipped finish assemblies out the front door. The processes for cutting the cast iron used soluable oil coolants that caused a lot of smoke or mist. The synthetic coolants, and heavy gear cutting oils used for steel, we bought by the tank car load. The atmosphere in the plant was always heavy with the mist and vapors from the coolants as they escaped into the air from the manufacturing processes. I would leave the plant with the smell of it heavy on my clothes. When I got out into fresh air, I would start coughing and have to blow my nose to get rid of whatever I had ingested.
There were also chemicals used in copper plating process and on our final assembly paint lines that were not human friendly by any means. At the time, no one knew how bad these chemicals were on our health. If they did, they never let on. After almost 20 years of breathing that filthy air, I can point to that as the most likely source of my PD symptoms. Of course, the company would never admit to anything otherwise and claim they followed all of the latest safety guidelines to the letter. I would have to call bs on that one.
PD is very difficult to diagnose. Its symptoms mimic those of several other diseases. A person can have very mild symptoms for years before a definitive diagnosis is made. Looking back, I first noticed my tremors in the late 90’s. My right hand would suddenly shake for seemingly no reason. It would only last a few seconds and then stop. It would be months between episodes and for the most part, I just wrote it off to stress. I did ask two doctors about it and got no where. Their reaction was, “It’s just stress related, you’re fine.” It wasn’t until 2017 that I finally got a doctor to listen to me and give me a thorough exam. All of those past episodes came back to me as precursors of what I now have.
No two people react the same way to PD. The symptoms, tremors, and medications used to treat PD vary widely. Some patients experience loss of smell, have spells where an arm or leg will “lock up” on them or have serious balance and stability issues. PD is a slowly progressing disease that has no cure. Medications work for a while but the disease soon overtakes them and more agressive treatment is required.
A patients mental health can also be affected. The constant tremors are frustrating. In my case, at times I feel exhausted from them. My arms feel like I’ve been through a super heavy workout in a gym. They get sore and sometimes cramp after a bad day. Staying hydrated is important to help reduce muscle cramps. I try to drink at least four, full hospital size water bottles of water every day. I also try to avoid stressful situations that trigger the tremors.
It is a constant struggle to keep my mind positive on a daily basis. When I have a good day, it’s to be enjoyed to the fullest – I might not have many more in the future. When I have a bad day, I just rest and try to keep my mind focused on positive things. It is difficult to find a balance between the good and bad days. PD has moved me from being a “doer” to a “do a little, rest a lot” type of person. Losing that independence or mojo of being able to take on a DIY project and rip through it, is hard to accept. Instead of doing all the work myself, I find I am hiring others to do it for me. I’m not happy about that at all.
I found there are several health related apps on I-Phone and Smart phones. Staying active and exercising is one of the recommended ways to fight the affects of PD. Sometimes, exercising is easier said than done, and many think they have to join a gym to do it. Not so. You can join a gym if you want, but there are also exercises you can do at home using a chair. You can explore more options at https://www.parkinson.org. Whatever your preference, exercise has been shown to slow down the progression of PD.
On my Samsug phone there is an app called Samsung Health. I recently loaded it and am trying to learn how to use it. I put together a little .MP4 video to show the basics of it, how to get started, and what information it gives you. My first project has been to get out and walk more. Exercise is a big help in maintaining balance and strength. The core muscles of the stomach and abdomen are key to keeping your back in shape and prolong the PD stoop shoulder look.
If you are interested, take a look at the attached video. I admit it is very basic, but you get the idea of what the app has to offer. Other versions on the I-Phone (from what I’ve seen) are better written and a little more robust, but I don’t have that device to build a presentation for. If you have the Samsung phone, this will get you started.