Parkinson Disease (Parkinson’s) is a brain disorder that occurs when nerve cells or neurons in a certain location of the brain die. These cells are no longer able to produce dopamine. When approximately 80% of the dopamine-producing cells are damaged, the symptoms of Parkinson disease appear.
The primary symptoms of Parkinson disease include:
- Tremors (shaking)
- Slowness of movement
- Rigidity (stiffness)
- Difficulty with balance
Other signs of Parkinson disease may include:
- Small, cramped handwriting
- Stiff facial expression
- Shuffling walk
- Muffled speech
Parkinson disease affects both men and women equally and about 1.5 million Americans currently have Parkinson disease. Approximately 60,000 new cases of Parkinson’s are diagnosed each year. Most new cases are for people over the age of 65 but possibly 15% are diagnosed under the age of 50.
It is difficult to diagnose Parkinson’s and some of the prescribed medicines replace dopamine which improves tremors and rigidity.
The National Parkinson Foundation, Inc. (NPF), is the largest organization serving persons affected by Parkinson disease throughout the world. The Foundation supports research for a cure and programs dedicated to improving care and quality of life. NPF provides information, support, and education for persons with Parkinson, their families, and health care professionals.