Paper ID # 172
Rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder (RBD) consists of excessive motor activity
during dreaming because of loss of skeletal muscle atonia during REM sleep (Olson, 200). This loss
of motor inhibition can manifest itself in a variety of ways, from simple twitching of limbs to much
more complex movements. These more complex movements are generally violent in nature,
resulting in injury to either the patient, or the patient’s bed partner (Ohayonet, 1997). Though its
prevalence in the general population is a mere 0.5% (Ohayonet, 1997), a prospective study showed
that 38% of patients with RBD eventually developed Parkinson’s disease (Schenck, 1996). Also, in
idiopathic Parkinson’s disease (IPD) patients, RBD can occur anywhere from 3 to 13 years before
the onset of the disease (Boeve, 2003).
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurological disorder, and is characterized by tremors while
resting, reduction in voluntary movement, and muscular rigidity (Rosenzweig, Leiman, &
Breedlove, 2001). Patients exhibit a degeneration of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra
that progresses with time. Cell death in the area is continuous, but symptoms of the disease will
only appear after a major loss.
The disease is one of the most common neurological conditions associated with visual
hallucinations – the perception of objects in the visual field which do not actually exist. The segue
into hallucinations can start with illusions, where sensory perception is greatly distorted, but
nonexistent sensory information is not present. These illusions usually last for several minutes,
during which time the subject could be either conscious and normal, or drowsy (Manford &
Anderrman, 1998). But most importantly, patients tend to preserve insight into these hallucinations,
and therefore can report when they have them.