What is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s Disease (PD) was first identified by James Parkinson in 1817 as the loss of ability to move normally (Simon, Tanner & Brundin., 2020). PD is a neurodegenerative disease that starts with a loss in dopaminergic neurons within the brain region called the substantia nigra (brainstem) which plays a role in regulating movement (Simon, Tanner & Brundin., 2020). The progression of PD is slow and as the production of dopamine is reduced over time, patients often seek medical care years after PD development has begun (Postuma & Anang., 2018).
Common Signs and Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease:
- Slow Movement (bradykinesia)
- Shaking (tremors)
- Stiffness (rigidity)
- Walking and balance problems
Risk Factors According to Postuma & Anang (2018)
- Age: is considered the most important risk factor for PD, as 1 in 400 people over 60 years old have PD. Risk increases with age as those over 70 years of age are 1 in 100, and over 80 is 1 in 40.
- Sex: men are more likely to develop PD, approximately ⅗ patients are males.
- Genes: those with parents who have PD are considered to have double the risk of PD development.
- Toxins: people who have been exposed to high levels of toxins such as pesticides have more chances of developing PD.
Epidemiology Of Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s is one of the most common central nervous system illnesses and the prevalence of Parkinson’s affects approximately 100,000 Canadians and 10 million globally (Postuma & Anang., 2018).
To receive a diagnosis a patient will be referred to a neurologist. According to Emamzadeh and Surguchov (2018) there is a long latency period between the first damaged dopaminergic cells and the presentation of clinical symptoms. The signs and symptoms of PD are often not present until 70-80% of the cells have been damaged (Emamzadeh & Surguchov., 2018).
Medications are prescribed for involuntary body movements which are attributed to the decrease in dopamine. Some of the most common options are Levodopa or medications that can act as dopamine agonists. Healthy living can play a vital role in how an individual with PD may feel, as those who take part in exercise and have a balanced diet have demonstrated to improve symptoms of PD (Postuma & Anang., 2018).
Management according to Postuma & Anang (2018)
Occupational Therapists – can provide an individual with compensatory strategies to manage symptoms of PD and offer equipment to reduce fall risk.
Physiotherapist – can provide a treatment plan to target balance and movement.
Speech therapist – can assist with swallowing and voice.
Nutritionist – provides recommendations for healthy eating.
Emamzadeh FN, Surguchov A. Parkinson’s Disease: Biomarkers, Treatment, and Risk Factors. Front Neurosci. 2018 Aug 30;12:612. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2018.00612. PMID: 30214392; PMCID: PMC6125353.
Postuma, R., & Anang, J. (2018). Parkinson’s Disease: An Introductory Guide. McGill University Health Centre. 2nd Edition.
Simon, D. K., Tanner, C. M., & Brundin, P. (2020). Parkinson Disease Epidemiology, Pathology, Genetics, and Pathophysiology. Clinics in geriatric medicine, 36(1), 1–12. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cger.2019.08.002