What is Parkinson's disease?
Parkinson's disease is a condition that affects the brain. Symptoms start gradually, sometimes starting with a barely noticeable tremor in just one hand.
Parkinson’s is a condition that causes problems in the brain which get worse over time.
According to the Parkinson’s UK website, there are around 145,000 people living with the condition in the UK. It is the fastest-growing neurological condition in the world.
Most people with Parkinson’s start to develop symptoms when they’re over 50, although 1 in 20 people with the condition first experience symptoms when they are under 40.
The three main symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are:
- Involuntary shaking of particular of the body
- Slow movement
- Stiff and inflexible muscles.
A person with the disease can also experience a wide range of other physical and psychological symptoms such as:
- Depression and anxiety
- Balance problems (this may increase the chances of a fall).
- Loss of smell
- Problems sleeping
- Memory problems.
What causes Parkinson’s disease?
Exactly what causes the loss of nerve cells is unclear. Most experts believe that it is a combination of genetic and environmental factors that could be responsible.
Because everyone can have unique versions of Parkinson’s so too is the combination of medication, exercise and therapies prescribed. There are drugs that can help with managing the symptoms of Parkinson’s.
There is evidence to suggest that increasing exercise to 2.5 hours per week can be as important as medication in managing Parkinson’s. Learn more about the types of exercise that may help with managing Parkinson’s here.
The following types of therapy may help with managing Parkinson’s on a day-to-day basis:
- Speech and language therapy
- Occupational therapy.
Other therapies such as aromatherapy, massage and conductive education may also assist.
Is there a cure?
Researchers and scientists are pushing hard to deliver a treatment for Parkinson’s but there is currently no cure.
New treatments are being developed such as drugs that can reduce dyskinesia other treatments include the following:
- stem cell therapies, which aim to use healthy, living cells to replace or repair the damage in the brains of people with Parkinson's
- gene therapies, which use the power of genetics to reprogramme cells and change their behaviour to help them stay healthy and work better for longer
- growth factors (like GDNF), which are naturally occurring molecules that support the growth, development and survival of brain cells.
If you are concerned whether you, or anyone you know is displaying symptoms of Parkinson’s disease you should share these concerns with a GP.
How to find the right care for you or your relative
1. Find your local office
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We’ll come out to you to find out what you or your loved one needs to help stay independent at home.
4. Care team chosen & care starts
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