Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological condition that effects one in every 500 people. This is around 127,000 people in the UK alone and is more prevalent with elderly people. Parkinson’s disease occurs due to a loss of nerve cells in the brain that produce the chemical dopamine, a neurotransmitter that communicates information throughout our brain and body. Specialists do not know the reason why these brain cells die but there is still extensive amounts of research and investment into understanding the illness.
The most common symptom of Parkinson’s is persistent body tremors. Other indicators include stiffness and balancing problems, muffled speech, hand cramps, shuffling, frozen facial expressions, slow movement and depression. Early symptoms are quite mild and usually do not require medicine. As the symptoms worsen caring for the patient can become harder and harder. More progressed symptoms include increased body tremors and slower movement. These progressed symptoms may impact everyday routine like eating or getting dressed. The head and shoulders may stoop to compensate for the lack of balance. It is most likely that the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease will begin to affect only one side of the body and could eventually spread. Some patients may develop dementia later in the process. Unfortunately, Parkinson’s disease is not easily diagnosed. It cannot be revealed through x-rays or blood tests, however, using blood tests and MRI scans can be used to rule out other conditions.
Unfortunately, Parkinson’s disease cannot be cured however there is a range of treatments available. Through the use of medicine, such as Levodopa, the symptoms of Parkinson’s can be managed. There are also therapies available like physiotherapy and occupational therapy to help ease the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Surgery is another treatment where doctors perform Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS), this means electrodes are implanted into specific parts of the brain. These electrodes administer electrical pulses that stimulate the brain to help overcome the tremors and slow movements.
There is help out there for people who suffer from Parkinson’s disease such as home assistance which is carried out by trained professionals ensuring maximum comfort and independence. As Parkinson’s worsens, everyday tasks become harder. If you need external help such as a nurse or residential care, a social worker may need to perform an assessment to see what level of care you qualify for. You can gain funding from the NSH/local authority depending on the outcome of your assessment.