Nearly 1 million people in the US have Parkinson’s disease and approximately 60,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. Most people who are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease are over 65 years of age though some people are diagnosed at younger ages, with about 5 to 10% of those with younger onset Parkinson’s diagnosed under the age of 40 according to the National Parkinson’s Foundation.
Parkinson’s disease was first identified in the early 1800s by Dr. James Parkinson, a British physician. Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder that is related to a reduction of and/or damage to dopamine producing brain cells. Dopamine is a chemical essential to a number of brain functions, including the coordinated and smooth movement of the body. When there is a significant reduction in dopamine, the muscular movement becomes uncoordinated and slowed, shaking or tremors occur, postural instability or balance is affected and the body can become rigid.
The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease tend to be subtle and come on gradually with a person noticing a tremor or perhaps a change in their ability to perform a task as the first signs. They may notice their movement is slower or it takes longer for them to accomplish a task. Early on, these changes are more evident on one side of the body but eventually progress to affect the whole body.
The primary symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include:
- Resting tremors of the hands, arms, legs, face and jaw.
- Stiffness or rigidity in the body’s trunk and limbs.
- Balance impairment and difficulty with coordination.
For more information on diagnosis, additional signs and symptoms and treatment options for Parkinson’s disease please view our Issues on Aging newsletter on our website at http://www.matrixadvocare.com/.