13 Aug Written for Deer Lodge Centre Foundation: Story on Parkinson’s Disease
This was an article written for my good friends at the Deer Lodge Centre Foundation on Parkinson’s Disease and what it entails. Awareness helps to boost the fight against the disease, and it starts with accessible information. You can find it in its entirety at the Deer Lodge Centre Foundation website.
Parkinson’s disease is a disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. It starts gradually and worsens over time. It affects one in every 500 people in Canada. More than 6,000 new cases are diagnosed each year in Canada.
Tremors and shaking of the hands are the first symptoms most people think of when they hear the words “Parkinson’s disease”, but according to Mayo Clinic, other important signs and symptoms include:
- Slowed movement. Over time, Parkinson’s disease may reduce your ability to move and slow your movement, making simple tasks difficult and time-consuming. Your steps may become shorter when you walk, or you may find it difficult to get out of a chair. Also, you may drag your feet as you try to walk, making it difficult to move.
- Rigid muscles. Muscle stiffness may occur in any part of your body. The stiff muscles can limit your range of motion and cause you pain.
- Impaired posture and balance. Your posture may become stooped, or you may have balance problems as a result of Parkinson’s disease.
- Loss of automatic movements. In Parkinson’s disease, you may have a decreased ability to perform unconscious movements, including blinking, smiling or swinging your arms when you walk.
- Speech changes. You may have speech problems as a result of Parkinson’s disease. You may speak softly, quickly, slur or hesitate before talking. Your speech may be more of a monotone rather than with the usual inflections.
- Writing changes. It may become hard to write, and your writing may appear small.
Parkinson’s most commonly strikes people between 50 and 70 years old. While the disease can affect teenagers, only about 10 per cent of cases involve people under 45 years old. The youngest confirmed case of Parkinson’s disease was in a 3-year-old individual.
Meeting the Parkinson’s challenge
Although the disease has no cure, doctors and researchers are making strides in helping people live with Parkinson’s. When Parkinsonism is suspected, patients are generally referred to specialists for treatment through their neurologist or family doctor.