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What is Parkinson disease?

Written by admin on May 18, 2015

Personal planning is important for people with Parkinson and Nidus will be presenting at the Parkinson Society of BC regional conferences in Kelowna on May 23, 2015 and in Vancouver on June 11, 2015.

The following information is provided by the Parkinson Society of BC.

What is Parkinson’s?

Parkinson’s disease (PD), a chronic, progressive neurological disorder that affects 1.0% of the population over 65 years of age.

Who gets Parkinson?

The average age of diagnosis is 60 but up to 20% of people with Parkinson’s are diagnosed under the age of 50. Parkinson’s disease does not discriminate with respect to race, gender or region of the world, although slightly more men than women have Parkinson’s.

What causes Parkinson?

PD is thought to be  caused by the slow deterioration of the nerve cells in the brain that  create dopamine, the chemical that  helps control muscle movement throughout the body. Thus, it is characterized by what are described as motor symptoms, that is, difficulties in movement.

What are the symptoms of Parkinson?

Early symptoms, often appearing gradually, may be a resting tremor (for example, a slight shaking of the hand when the arm is still) on one side of the body, or “facial masking” when it appears to others that someone has a blank stare. Other symptoms include muscle stiffness and rigidity, bradykinesia (slowness of movement), and gait and balance impairment. As the disease progresses, symptoms such as voice and swallowing difficulties and freezing of gait may occur. Non-motor symptoms, such as depression, sleep difficulties, hallucinations, constipation, and cognitive changes (dementia) can also occur.

How is it treated?

Although people may live a normal life span with Parkinson’s, there is no cure. Treatment focuses on managing symptoms.  Some people with Parkinson’s may benefit from Deep Brain Stimulation, in which a surgically implanted device delivers electrical stimulation to the areas in the brain responsible for controlling movement. This interrupts the abnormal nerve signals that cause tremors and other symptoms. Help with symptoms can also come from physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and exercise.


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