What Is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s disease is neurodegenerative brain disorder that progresses slowly in most people. Most people's symptoms take years to develop, and they live for years with the disease.
A person's brain slowly stops producing a neurotransmitter called dopamine. With less and less dopamine, a person has less and less ability to regulate their movements, body and emotions.
Parkinson's disease itself is not fatal. However, complications from the disease are serious; the Center for Disease Control rated complications from PD as the 14th top cause of death in the United States.
Four Main Motor Symptoms of Parkinson's Disease:
- Shaking or tremor at rest.
- Slowness of movement, called bradykinesia.
- Stiffness or rigidity of the arms, legs or trunk.
- Trouble with balance and falls, also called postural instability. Postural instability usually appears later with disease progression and may not be present with initial diagnosis.
Secondary Symptoms of PD May Include:
- Small, cramped handwriting, called micrographia.
- Reduced arm swing on the affected side.
- Slight foot drag on affected side creating a shuffled walk.
- "Freezing”—a term used to describe the phenomenon of being “stuck in place” when attempting to walk.
- Loss of facial expression due to rigidity of facial muscles, called hypomimia.
- Low voice volume or muffled speech, called hypophonia.
- Tendency to fall backwards, called retropulsion.
- Decrease ability in automatic reflexes such as blinking and swallowing.
Facts and Figures
- As many as one million Americans live with Parkinson’s.
- 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s each year.
- 7-10 million people worldwide are living with Parkinson’s.
- 4% of patients are diagnosed before age 50.
- Men are 1.5X more likely to have Parkinson’s than women.
- $25 billion per year in the US is spent on Parkinson’s disease.
Although there is no cure to Parkinson’s disease with the help from a team of physicians and nurses the chronic condition can be slowed.
To find out about clinical trials and how to participate, please visit www.PDtrials.org