Micrographia is a term that refers to handwriting that becomes progressively smaller and harder to read. It is considered a medical condition that arises because of damage to the basal ganglia in the brain, the area that controls fine motor movements. Micrographia is a very common symptom in individuals with Parkinson's disease. With rehabilitation training and ongoing medical treatment for Parkinson's disease, people may be able to lessen their handwriting difficulties and other problems that result from insufficient motor functioning.
Parkinson's disease primarily affects motor movement, and can result in a loss of dexterity with both gross and fine muscle skills. Micrographia is often a prominent symptom in Parkinson's disease patients, as their brains lose the ability to coordinate and maintain the motions necessary to write. Neural connections in the basal ganglia and other parts of the brain become disrupted and symptoms tend to become progressively worse over time with Parkinson's disease.
In most instances of micrographia, a person will begin writing in a normal style and size, and maintaining a horizontal line. As he or she continues writing, however, words and letters tend to become smaller, cramped together, and difficult to read. An individual may not be able to keep their handwriting in a straight line. Sentences may diverge diagonally upwards or downwards on a page, and words may begin to curl around each other as the writing becomes smaller and smaller, to the point where they cannot be deciphered even by the person writing them.
Micrographia and other motor difficulties related to Parkinson's disease can be very frustrating and eventually become debilitating. Unfortunately, Parkinson's disease cannot be cured, though individuals can often reduce some of their symptoms by taking prescription medications and engaging in physical therapy. Most medications work by increasing dopamine levels in the brain, neurotransmitters that are essential in stabilizing neural functioning and motor movement. Regular physical therapy sessions allow individuals to increase their muscle strength and train their bodies to better deal with difficulties manipulating handheld instruments, such as pens and pencils.
Many people are able to improve their handwriting by practicing diligently. They can use wide-ruled paper and concentrate on staying within printed lines. With the aid of medications to control tremors, individuals who have enough willpower and neural functioning to focus on their activities can overcome micrographia symptoms and write legibly. Support from friends, family members, doctors, and physical therapists can help give individuals with Parkinson's disease the confidence they need to keep trying.