World Parkinson’s Disease Day marks the birthday of Dr. James Parkinson, an English doctor that published “An Essay on the Shaking Palsy” describing the characteristic symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in 1817. The aim of this event is to raise awareness of this terrible disease, promoting a greater understanding of this condition and how it can affect a person.

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder of the central nervous system, in which nerve cells that help coordinate movements are reduced in numbers. As cell death spreads to ever larger parts of the brain more centers are affected. This results in an aggravation of motor and non motor disorders.

Parkinson’s disease Symptoms

Parkinson’s disease affects about 1 of 250 people older than 40, about 1 of 100 people older than 65, and about 1 of 10 people older than 80. It commonly begins between the ages of 50 and 79. Symptoms are unpredictable and can vary on a time scale as short as one minute.

Non Motor Symptoms of Parkinson’s

The first symptoms are non motor symptoms which can precede the onset of motor Parkinson’s disease for many years. They include:

  • REM sleep behavioral disorder
  • Reduced sense of smell
  • Automatic dysfunction
  • Depression
  • Impaired Vision
  • Attention Deficit
  • Difficulties planning and carrying out ordinary tasks

Motor Symptoms of Parkinson’s

Symptoms gradually degenerate and finally appear motor symptoms such as tremor, rigidity, akinesia / bradykinesia (slowness of movement) and difficulty walking, which is highly disabling for the patient. The impact of these motor symptoms in the day to day life of a person with Parkinson’s are immense.

For example, a person may not be able to perform a simple activity like crossing the road in case their ‘feet freeze’ making them unable to walk. When shopping, they may be unable to take money out from a purse or wallet to pay for items due to involuntary arm and hand movements.

Many people associate this condition with the physical symptoms of tremor or rigidity. These symptoms may be shown as head bobbing or other sudden involuntary jerking movements. World Parkinson’s Day aims to make more people aware of the non motor symptoms, fundamental to detect the Parkinson’s disease early.

Living with Parkinson’s

Currently there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, but medication and therapy are used to treat its symptoms.

The traditional base of medical treatment is levodopa, that help lessen symptoms. Other treatments include lifestyle modifications like getting more rest and more exercise.

Surgery can be an effective treatment option for different symptoms, but only the symptoms that previously improved on levodopa have the potential to improve after the surgery. Deep brain stimulation (DBS), implanting electrodes in the brain structure, is a powerful therapeutic tool for patients with Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders. The action of the electric current through these electrodes causes the symptoms to normal, decrease or even disappear, resulting in a significant change in the quality of life of patients.

These options improve the quality of life of patients through the total or partial elimination of Parkinson’s disease symptoms. Ask our movement disorders specialists about surgical treatment options to control the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

Living with Parkinson's disease