Parkinson’s disease: Bradykinesia is one of the main symptoms of condition – what is it?

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Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder in which nerve cells progressively die, resulting in the loss of dopamine, a chemical messenger that relays information between nerve cells, and from the brain to the rest of the body. Reduced levels of dopamine affect the body’s motor function, causing movement disorders such as bradykinesia. What is bradykinesia and how can you relieve the symptom?

Muscle rigidity, also known as muscle tension, rigor, or stiffness, is one of the most common causes of muscle pain.

It’s characterized by the inability of the muscles to relax normally.

The condition can affect any of the muscles in the body, causing sharp pain that makes it difficult to move.

Parkinson’s rigidity is often most noticeable when a person moves a joint through a circular movement with the movement feeling as if the joint is moving through a number of cogs, known as “cogwheel rigidity”.

In a study published in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, bradykinesia as a symptom in Parkinson’s disease was further investigated.

“Bradykinesia is a slowness and lack of spontaneous movement,” reported the study.

It continued: “Patients may report difficulty with fine motor tasks, such as doing-up buttons; a change in speech with a quiet, monotonous voice (hypophonia); or an increase in saliva because of an infrequent swallow.

“Even before examining a patient, bradykinesia can be appreciated by noticing a lack of normal gestures and fidgeting, the loss of facial expression (hypomimia), and a decreased blink frequency.

“It is helpful to observe their gait as they walk into the clinic room; they may exhibit a reduced arm swing as well as short, shuffling steps and a stooped posture.” 

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The study also found that bradykinesia can be specifically elicited on examination using repeated hand movements, for example, finger tapping or pronation/supination, or in the lower limbs using repeated foot tapping.

Patients with parkinsonian bradykinesia show not only a slowness of movement but also a decrement in the speed or amplitude of movement.

Change in handwriting is another manifestation of bradykinesia which can be demonstrated during the clinical examination; patients display small and cramped handwriting which becomes progressively smaller (micrographia) with a tendency of the sentence to fall off the line.

It has been estimated that between 90 to 99 percent of people with Parkinson’s experience rigidity.

Rigidity is often associated with slowness of movement (bradykinesia).

It is often preceded by aching, stiffness or a feeling of weakness in the muscles.

Rigidity – meaning stiff or inflexible muscles – is one of the main motor symptoms of Parkinson’s, along with tremor and slowness of movement.

Muscles become rigid because of their inability to relax.

Physical therapy plays a vital role in managing bradykinesia.

Exercise is essential to helping maintain movement and slow down the progression of bradykinesia.

An exercise regimen that can improve muscle tone and quality of movements and should be discussed with a healthcare professional.

Occupational therapy is another helpful treatment to help ease the symptom of bradykinesia.

“Occupational therapy can help adjust the patient’s daily activities so that they can continue to remain independent and mobile despite poor movement quality,” said Parkinson’s News Today.

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