Parkinson’s disease affects around 80,000 people in Australia - on average, 25 Australians are diagnosed every day, and one in seven of those will be under 50 years of age. Parkinson’s disease is a progressive degenerative neurological condition that impairs movement. Patients in the advanced stages depend on 24-hour care from loved ones or professionals. Symptoms result from the progressive degeneration of nerve cells, including those that make dopamine, a chemical messenger necessary for smooth, controlled movements.
Parkinson's disease usually affects people over the age of 50. However, up to one in five patients, like Michael J Fox, are diagnosed between the ages of 30 and 50 years.
Symptoms and Causes
The primary symptoms of Parkinson's disease are:
- Tremor (shaking, trembling), usually commencing in one hand and travelling down that side before moving to the other; as the disease progresses the shaking may interfere with daily activities.
- Rigidity, or stiffness of the limbs and trunk.
- Bradykinesia, or slowness of movement, which occurs when the brain can no longer control fine movements.
As these symptoms become more pronounced, patients may have trouble walking, talking and completing other simple tasks.
Parkinson's disease occurs when dopamine-producing brain cells become impaired. Dopamine allows smooth, coordinated function of the body's muscles and movement. When approximiately 70% of the dopamine-producing cells are damaged, the symptoms of Parkinson's disease appear.
If you are seeking more information on living with Parkinson's disease please follow the links below.
Or follow the link to your local Parkinson's organisation.
Parkinson's Western Australia (Incorporating Northern Territory)View labs and projects