More than just a tremor
Many people connect Parkinson´s disease with a noticeable shaking of certain parts of the body. However, the tremor does not appear in all sufferers but is just one of the many possible symptoms of this complex neurological disease.
The diagnosis of Parkinson´s disease is given when at least one of the following key symptoms is present in addition to a periodic freezing of movement (akinesia): Muscle rigidity (rigor), muscle quivering (tremor) and/or postural instability. On top of this, there are often symptoms such as autonomic disorders or changes in mental state. With such a wide range of symptoms, the clinical picture and course of disease can vary greatly from person to person.
Parkinson´s is a progressive neurological disease that is not currently curable
Parkinson´s disease is caused by the death of dopamine producing nerve cells in the brain region known as the substantia nigra. However, the degeneration in the brain has to be well advanced before any visible loss of function appears. First signs can be slowed movements, clumsiness, shaking of an arm or shortened steps on walking.
Parkinson´s disease is not yet curable. Besides alleviation of symptoms with medication, physio-, ergo-, speech and psychotherapy can improve the sufferer´s sense of well-being. In recent years deep-brain stimulation, delivered through a neurosurgical procedure, has been offered in certain cases. For this, electrodes connected to a programmable pacemaker, placed under the collarbone, are implanted in the patient´s brain.
Parkinson´s disease usually occurs in older age
Parkinson´s disease is a neurological disorder with onset mostly within the age range of 50 - 60 years. Men are more frequently affected than women. In Germany an estimated 150,000 people suffer from the disorder.
Parkinson´s disease sets in for no evident reason and at 75 percent is the most common of the Parkinsonian syndromes - an umbrella term for all disorders displaying the four key symptoms. The remaining 25 percent of Parkinsonian syndromes are manifestations of other neurodegenerative diseases.