What is Parkinson’s?
Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative, neurological disorder that affects the cells in the brain that produce dopamine, a chemical that helps initiate and control movement. The primary symptoms of Parkinson’s include the following:
1. Tremor, or trembling, in the hands, arms, legs, jaw and face
2. Rigidity or stiffness
3. Bradykinesia, or slowness of movement
4. Postural instability, or impaired balance and coordination
Though the primary symptoms of Parkinson’s affect movement, there are other associated symptoms. These symptoms, called non-motor symptoms, can include:
1. Depression, anxiety and other emotional changes
2. Difficulty in swallowing, chewing and speaking
3. Urinary problems or constipation
4. Problems sleeping
5. Cognitive impairment
Is there a cure for the disease?
There is currently no cure for Parkinson’s. Treatments for the disease can help to alleviate the symptoms but the disease continues to progress. Treatments for the disease often work by replacing or mimicking dopamine in the brain.
Who gets Parkinson’s?
Parkinson’s usually affects people over the age of 60, but the disease can occur at younger ages. When a person under the age of 50 is diagnosed with the disease, it is called Young Onset Parkinson’s. Michael J. Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s when he was 30 years old; Brian Grant was diagnosed with the disease when he was 36 years old. There are approximately 1.5 million people living with Parkinson’s in the U.S. and an estimated 7-10 million people living with the disease worldwide. Every year, 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s.
Are the symptoms the same for everyone?
Parkinson’s affects everyone differently. The types and severity of symptoms and the rates of progression differ from person to person, making it incredibly important for patients to seek specific treatments for their own individual needs.