Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson’s Disease is a slow, progressive disease of the brain affecting learned voluntary movements such as walking, talking, dressing, turning over in bed, writing and leisure activities.

It results from the loss of the chemical messenger dopamine, which co-ordinates the body’s movements and allows us to move freely.

There are three main symptoms: Shaking, muscle stiffness and slowness or difficulty in carrying out or starting a movement. Symptoms may vary from person to person and even from day to day. Not everyone will experience all three symptoms.

The cause is as yet unidentified and there is no know cure. Parkinson’s is not inherited nor is it contagious or life threatening.

It affects approximately one person in a thousand, both men and women and all social and ethnic groups. There are more than 120,000 people with Parkinson’s in the U.K and it is common in all part of the world. It is more likely to affect those aged over 65 but can affect much younger people too.

The main treatment for Parkinson’s is drug therapy, which is aimed at improving your symptoms. As everyone has different symptoms the drug treatment has to be tailored to the individual and the timing of medication is as important as the dosage. With the optimum drug treatment life expectancy is normal. Surgical techniques are also being researched.

Management plays a very important part in the care of people with Parkinson’s and professions such as physiotherapy, speech and language therapy and occupational therapy have an important role to play. Help for carers is also vitally important.

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