A chronic brain disorder, Parkinson's disease results in slow movements and stiff muscles in those affected. Parkinson's disease causes the area of the brain which produces a chemical called dopamine to deteriorate leading to a dopamine deficiency. A lack of dopamine is what causes the interference in the transmission of messages between the brain and nerve cells, making movement difficult.
The majority of those affected by Parkinson’s are over the age of 55, but it can occur in younger people as well. Men and women are equally affected. Today, in Canada, there are approximately 100,000 people suffering with Parkinson’s.
Symptoms of Parkinson’s include a tremor of the limbs when at rest, muscular rigidity, delayed movement, difficulty walking, reduced volume and clarity of speech and loss of fine motor skills.
Parkinson’s is difficult to diagnose as there is no test to determine its presence. Neurologists can deduce Parkinson’s by medical history and careful clinical examination. Often, tests are done to rule out other conditions which may resemble Parkinson’s to narrow down the diagnosis.
Treatment is needed to correct the chemical imbalance. Drugs alleviate the symptoms but do not halt the progression. As the symptoms progress, more medication is needed. While treatment does enable people to function better, it is not perfect and can cause pronounced side effects. Ongoing active research is focused on finding more effective treatment.
Therapy including both occupational and physical can improve the impact of Parkinson’s affects. Speech language pathology can assist with difficulty in speaking.
There are several products to assist with those with Parkinson’s including: