Do you find it hard to complete your daily activities with the same speed and coordination as usual? Are you struggling to get motivated for these activities? For many people, this is sadly the case and it could result in a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. Fortunately, Parkinson’s is not a fatal condition and it can be effectively managed.
WHAT IS PARKINSON’S DISEASE?
Affecting nearly 6 million people worldwide, Parkinson’s disease is a movement disorder that occurs with damage to nerve cells in the ‘substantia nigra’ (black substance) of the midbrain. These cells produce dopamine, which enables the smooth movement patterns that we often take for granted; if these cells are damaged, the brain cannot produce enough dopamine to allow for smooth movement.
Some common symptoms of Parkinson’s include:
- Tremor, especially at rest
- Decreased movement speed
- Rigid and stiff limbs
- Compromised gait and balance
Less-common symptoms include:
- Impaired working memory
- Low blood pressure
- Lack of emotion and motivation
- Excessive daytime fatigue
See your doctor if you experience one or more of these symptoms.
With most Parkinson’s diagnoses, there is no known cause. Research suggests that Parkinson’s is typically caused by several genetic factors (such as older age and genetic mutations) and environmental factors (such as head injury and substance abuse). Future studies are aiming to make diagnoses more specific to each person, and to accurately diagnose Parkinson’s well before symptoms begin to worsen.
WHAT PARKINSON’S MEANS TO YOU
Individuals living with Parkinson’s disease will have different experiences. Some people may have a rapid decline in function, whereas others may decline more slowly. Likewise, symptoms may be extreme for some people, but virtually non-existent for others. Once thing is certain – whilst the diagnosis of Parkinson’s can be unwelcome, there is hope. In fact, many people living with Parkinson’s may continue to lead a happy and opportunistic life.
If you would like further information on Parkinson’s disease, feel free to visit the following resources:
The Michael J. Fox Foundation. The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research | Parkinson’s Disease (michaeljfox.org)
Health Direct. Parkinson’s disease – symptoms, causes, diagnosis and management | healthdirect
Parkinson’s Australia. HOME | Parkinson’s Australia (parkinsons.org.au)