Who Discovered It? Discover Who Found What & When
ScienceDiseasesGeographyAstronomyChemical ElementsMiscellaneous

Who Discovered Parkinson’s Disease?

Posted In: Diseases. Bookmark and Share

Though no one can tell for sure who first discovered Parkinson’s disease and when it was discovered, there are a number of evidences to show that Parkinson’s disease is known to have existed for over thousands of years. Ayurveda, a traditional Indian system of medicine has got a proven method and medicines to treat Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s disease finds its mention in the history as early as 5000 BC. Neijing, a Chinese medical text that was compiled 2,500 years ago makes a mention about Parkinson’s disease.

Huangdi Neijing and Dr. James ParkinsonOld Chinese medical text, Huangdi Neijing and Dr. James Parkinson.

Dr. James Parkinson

During the modern times, Dr. James Parkinson authored a work entitled “An Essay on the Shaking Palsy”, and published in the year 1817. This work formally recognized Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson, a doctor from London who lived between 1755 and1824 observed certain curious symptoms in the patients who came to his clinic in addition to three other people whom he saw in the streets of the city. In his essay, Parkinson makes a clear mention of three predominant symptoms of Parkinson’s disease namely tremors, rigidity, and postural instability. He claimed that a problem in the medulla region of the brain was responsible for this disease.

Nobody paid any attention to his work

Though Parkinson was interested in popularizing the findings through his essay, the essay receive little attention till 1861. In this year, Jean Martin Charcot, a French neurologist and his team clearly distinguished this particular disease from a number of other neurological conditions and named it Parkinson’s disease in recognition of the efforts by Dr. Parkinson years ago.

It was considered as a terminal illness

Several decades passed by without any definite treatment being evolved to treat Parkinson’s disease. The popular belief considered it as a terminal illness. In 1940s and 1950s, neurosurgeons attempted a surgery on the basal ganglia region of the brain, which could successfully relive the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease to a considerable extent. However, this surgery was rather difficult to perform in the sense that about 12 percent of the patients died on account of the surgery.

Major development occurred in 1960s

A major advancement in treating Parkinson’s disease came about in 1960. During this time, doctors researching on Parkinson’s disease found that this disease could have been caused by lowering in the levels of dopamine, a brain chemical that allowed for smooth, coordinated movement. This theory led to the development of a drug called Levodopa or L-dopa that treated the nerve cells to stimulate the production of dopamine. Though several other advancements came up in the diagnosis and treatment of Parkinson’s disease, this drug continues to be in use to this day in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.