This week is Parkinson’s Awareness Week. Here Dr Hilary Jones discusses this condition, how to detect it and manage it long term.
Imagine having no control over how your body moves. Imagine having tremors and not being able to tie your shoes or even button your shirt the way you used to. Imagine that over time you start to lose more and more control over your normal functions until you are in a wheelchair and under constant care. Now imagine still being able to think fast and process information during all of this. Sound scary? That’s because it is. What I am describing is Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s is caused when nerve cells that used to send dopamine to your brain break down. According to WebMD, “Dopamine sends signals to the part of your brain that controls movement. It lets your muscles move smoothly and do what you want them to do.” Without dopamine, you lose control over how your body moves. In the case of Parkinson’s, the disease is progressive and occurs over a long period of time. There is no known reason why this break down in the nerve cells occurs. Symptoms of Parkinson’s are outlined below.
While there are tons of resources about the disease, such as The Michael J. Fox Foundation, that cover symptoms, treatments, and more, actually living with it can be hard to comprehend. In a story published in the Cambridge News, one councilor discusses what it is like for him to live with Parkinson’s. You can read the full story here.
Councilor Charles Nightingale describes how he found out he had the disease. In the article he states, “‘I thought I had a frozen shoulder,’ he said. ‘I couldn’t lift my arm too high. I started shaking in my right hand. At the time, I had just been made chairman of South Cambridgeshire District Council. I thought it was a nervous twitch. I used to sit on my hand. I went to the doctors and they said I had Parkinson’s.’” Something many of us would think was an issue that might need physical therapy or surgery turned out to be a life-changing diagnosis for this gentleman. He also mentions that it even affected his voice. Living with Parkinson’s can be mentally and physically debilitating. Below are some statistics on Parkinson’s disease.
As you can see, it is a widespread disease with ongoing research still being conducted to find a cure. However, it is not a death sentence. There are ways to treat the symptoms. WebMD lists some of them here. Although this post is not about the treatments, symptoms, or prevention, it is important to know this information. Knowing what it is like for someone with Parkinson’s is one thing. Caring for them is another.
According to Parkinson’s UK, every hour someone in the UK is told they have the disease. In addition, most people who get the disease in the UK are over 50, and there are about 127,000 people currently with the disease.
As this week in Parkinson’s Awareness week, Dr Hilary Jones has recorded this useful Vlog, which is really helpful if you want to know how to detect the early signs of Parkinson’s Disease.