Parkinson’s Disease: What to Look For and How to Treat Those Affected

A progressive disease of the central nervous system, Parkinson’s affects movement and while the on-set can be mild tremors or stiffness, those affected can develop more severe and debilitating physical problems as the disease progresses. The month of April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month, and for those who are at an advanced age or caring for an older individual, knowing what to look for is a key element to keeping on top of any developing symptoms and getting the right treatment underway.

Early stages of Parkinson’s can cause patients to have difficulty visibly expressing emotion in their face or cause an increased stiffness to their limbs. Automatic movements such as gesturing, blinking and smiling are no longer exhibited. In addition to stiffness in the limbs and walk, people affected might move more slowly or start to drag their feet. Speech may slow, become soft, quicken, or become slurred, or you might hesitate to speak. Tremors or shaking in the limbs, usually the hands or fingers, is another characteristic of Parkinson’s. Impaired posture, balance and difficulty writing are also signs of the disease. These symptoms worsen as the disease progresses.

There is no cure for Parkinson’s but with the right medications, patients may show marked improvement. People with Parkinson’s disease have low dopamine concentrations in their brains, and medication can increase or substitute for the missing dopamine. In cases where medication is not helping, the doctor might suggest surgery to improve symptoms by regulating certain brain regions.

For more information and to find resources available for those affected, visit the following links:
The Mayo Clinic: Parkinson’s Disease
The National Parkinson’s Foundation