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Parkinson’s Awareness Week starts from Monday 20th April to Saturday April 25th, 2015. To raise awareness of disease, HMT is offering informative facts about the signs, causes and treatments available.

Please share the article with your loved ones to boost their knowledge and understanding of this debilitating condition.

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s Disease is a chronic disorder of part of the brain, which will unfortunately become progressively damaged over time. The disease will mostly affect the brain’s co-ordination, affecting muscle movement in the body. Those living with the condition commonly suffer from the following three symptoms:

• tremors – involuntary shaking on certain areas of the body

• Stiff, rigid movements

• Slow movement

The disease can also result in various psychological or physical symptoms, such as:

• depression

• insomnia

• constipation

• anosmia (loss of smell)

• memory problems

What is the Cause of Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s Disease is a result of the loss of nerve cells in part of the brain, known as the substantia nigra, which will lead to a reduction in the chemical dopamine in the brain. The chemical’s reduction is responsible for many of the disease’s symptoms, as dopamine helps to regulate a body’s movement.

The cause of the cell loss is unknown, but many experts believe it could be due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Who Does Parkinson’s Disease Affect?

Approximately one in 500 people are affected by Parkinson’s Disease, as there are an estimated 127,000 people living with the condition in the UK alone. The disease commonly develops in people who are over the age of 50 years old, and men are more likely to be diagnosed with the condition than women. One in 20 people with the condition may first experience symptoms under the age of 40 years old.

What Treatments are Available for Parkinson’s Disease?

At present, there is sadly no cure for Parkinson’s Disease. There are, however, treatments available to reduce some of the main symptoms, which can help a person maintain quality of life for as long as possible.

Treatments include:

• Physiotherapy

• Occupational therapy

• Medication

• Surgery

A person may not need treatment if they are in the early stages of the condition, as the symptoms can usually be quite mild. However, Parkinson’s is a progressive disease and so a person will need regular appointments with a specialist to monitor their condition.

The symptoms can become worse over time, which could result in an inability to perform everyday tasks without assistance. Some people may respond well to the treatments, and so will only suffer from mild to moderate disability. Unfortunately, Parkinson’s Disease can result in a person becoming severely disabled.

While Parkinson’s Disease is not a life-threatening condition, it can make a body more vulnerable to serious or even life-threatening infections, as the disease can place significant strain on the body.