When James Parkinson first described the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease he noted rigidity in muscles, a tremor and disturbance of movement. When observing this patient population he also noticed that they “fetched their breath rather hard” marking another important symptom of the disease, dysfunction of respiration.
The function of the respiratory system is to provide oxygen for our tissues and remove carbon dioxide . This is achieved by the muscles of our rib cage and abdomen, and the respiratory center in our brain which is modulated by information received from receptors reporting on oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in our blood. Disturbance to any of these area can change our respiratory pattern.
Muscles of the rib cage and abdomen
Rigidity and slowness of movement (bradykinesia) are symptoms people with Parkinson’s are familiar with in respect to the muscles of their limbs. These changes to movement can also affect the respiratory muscles making fast repetitive breaths ie during exercise, difficult.
Respiratory center in the Brain
Cells in an area of the brainstem called the Locus Ceruleus (LC) are damaged in people with Parkinson’s. Some authors believe the LC can be considered part of the respiratory center in the brain and so can influence respiratory patterns.
Respiratory chemical Receptors
It is believed that the receptors which send information to the brain regarding oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the blood also use dopamine as their neuro-transmitter. In people with Parkinson’s changes in the ability to produce dopamine can affect this system.
It is widely seen in disease populations that as movement becomes more difficult, patients become increasingly sedentary and as a result in the early stages of the disease many of these symptoms may go unnoticed. As the disease progresses and muscle oxygen demand increases, for reasons such as tremor and rigidity, changes to breathing patterns and control may become more apparent.
There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, however, new evidence suggests that the clinical progression of the disease can likely be slowed and that exercise is neuroprotective and can improve movement, mobility and independence as well as delay secondary complications. So GET MOVING today.
For more information about our PD Warrior program, please contact the office on 9906 7777.