Parkinson’s disease is still little understood despite pioneering research. The causes of this condition are still unknown and there is no cure.
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive and fluctuating illness affecting all aspects of daily living.
The first symptoms are usually first noticed after the age of 50 and it is more common in men than women. Despite the fact there is currently no cure for Parkinson’s disease peoples experience of the condition vary and symptoms can be treated with a combination of medication, physiotherapy and occupational therapy to help make day to day life easier.
What is Parkinson’s disease?
Parkinson’s disease affects the brain and central nervous system.
It progresses over time affecting walking, talking and writing due to loss of cells in the brain that produce a substance called dopamine.
Dopamine helps transmit messages from our brain to various muscles, particularly those controlling and co-ordinating body movement. As the cells die and there is a reduction in the amount of dopamine produuced, the messages are sent more slowly.The symptoms of the condition appear when around 80% of the dopamine has been lost.
Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease develop slowly and vary from person to person.
However the three most common ones are:
- Tremor – shaking usually in one arm or hand. It is likely to occur while at rest and decrease when the arm or hand is used. It is the first symptom reported by around 70% people diagnosed with Parkinson’s.
- Muscle stiffness or rigidity – this may cause problems when attempting to get up out of a chair or fasten a button.
- Slowing of movement – particularly affects initiating a movement or in the time it takes to complete it.
Some people report other symptoms including constipation, disturbed sleep and depression.
If some one you know is displaying these symptoms, the first thing to do is make an appointment with a GP.