Parkinson’s disease affects certain nerve cells in the brain, specifically those that monitor a chemical called dopamine, which controls movement. When the cells break down and patients are no longer receiving an adequate level of dopamine, they can find it difficult to move as they would wish to.

According to Parkinsons.org.uk, it’s thought that one in every 500 people in the UK has Parkinson’s. This equates to approximately 127,000 individuals, many of them over the age of 50, who require specialist care and support because of various mobility problems caused by the onset of the disease. Some research has concluded that Parkinson’s is inherited to a degree, but it can also develop in those who have no family history of the condition.

There are four key symptoms of Parkinson’s:

Tremor

Involuntary shaking, often experienced in the hands, is the most common identifier. Resting tremors are very typical of Parkinson’s – these occur when the body is relaxed.

Stiff muscles

As well as making it difficult to move fluidly, rigidity and inflexibility in the muscles can also lead to pain and cramps in Parkinson’s patients.

Slow movement

Those with Parkinson’s will often experience bradykinesia. They may only be able to walk by taking short, shuffling steps and may find that it takes them longer to do things than before.

Balance/walking problems

Parkinson’s sufferers are often unsteady on their feet. This can sometimes lead to accidents or injury through falling.

Some patients will also display other physical symptoms, including:

  • Loss of smell
  • Problems with the eyes and bladder
  • Problems with communication and speech
  • Difficulty swallowing and chewing
  • Restless legs syndrome
  • Excessive sweating
  • Dizziness (making them more prone to falls)
  • Fatigue

Patients can also experience non-motor related symptoms such as pain, anxiety, depression, and in some cases, hallucinations and delusions.

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