Understanding Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a long-term progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. It develops when cells in a particular part of the brain stop working properly and are lost over the time. These brain cells produce dopamine which is used by the brain to control movement.
Young adults rarely experience Parkinson’s disease. It ordinarily begins in middle or late life, and the risk increases with age. People usually develop the disease around age 60 or older and men are 1.5 times more likely to have it than women.
Parkinson’s disease symptoms and signs can vary from person to person and may include:
- Tremor, an uncontrollable movement that affects a part of the body, for example, the hand;
- Rigidity, meaning stiff or inflexible muscle;
- Slowed movement (bradykinesia), reducing the ability to move and slow the movement’s patient and making simple tasks difficult and time-consuming;
- Pain which can be a major issue for some people with Parkinson’s and can be felt in different ways. The musculoskeletal pain is the most common type of pain that people with Parkinson’s experience. It is usually felt as an ache around the joints, arms or legs;
- Restless legs syndrome, also known as Willis-Ekbom disease, a condition that causes an overwhelming urge to move the legs;
- Fatigue, experienced by up to half of people with Parkinson’s and may be one of the earliest symptoms;
- Sleep and night-time problems that can affect the patient at any stage of the condition;
- Speech and Communication issues which affect facial expressions, writing and verbal communication in people with Parkinson’s.
Although Parkinson’s Disease has no cure, there are treatments and therapies that can help the patient to control the symptoms such as:
- Drug treatment, the main method used to control the PD symptoms. This treatment aims to increase the level of dopamine that reaches the brain and stimulate the parts of the brain where dopamine works;
- Surgery, mainly used to treat people whose Parkinson’s symptoms can’t be controlled by medication;
- Physiotherapy which can help PD patients having problems with everyday movements, such as walking or getting in and out of a chair or bed;
- Occupational therapy that aims to help patients to execute everyday tasks when they become difficult to do.
If you need to undergo diagnosis or treatment, or you are a PD caregiver you may contact us and get more information about the Parkinson’s Intensive Learning Camp and individual therapeutic programmes for PD patients of the Campus Neurológico Sénior located in the centre of Portugal.
Source: Parkinson’s Foundation and Parkinson’s UK.