What is Parkinson’s Disease?
by Stuart Mapes
Parkinson’s disease is a disorder that affects the nervous system and inhibits movement. Basically, your brain loses connectivity with the muscles that allow you to move around and perform everyday activities. Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include shaking; difficulty walking; and sleep, cognitive and emotional problems.
About ten million people worldwide have Parkinson’s disease, including actor Michael J. Fox and former boxer Muhammad Ali. Onset usually occurs between ages 50 and 60.
Doug Springer, a Parkinson’s disease patient, comments that it affects just about everything in your life.
People with Parkinson’s have trouble with tasks that may seem simple, like walking, moving through a crowd of people, getting out of the passenger seat of a car, and even getting up from a chair. Most people with Parkinson’s cannot drive and need help getting around. They may also have difficulty sleeping and cognitive problems. Dementia is common in the later stages of the disease.
There are also emotional obstacles that Parkinson’s patients must overcome. If the symptoms are severe, patients may be depressed about not being able to do certain things. They may also feel isolated or self-conscious because of their disease.
Exercise and socializing with other Parkinson’s patients is important. Certain exercises help affected muscles regain some strength, allowing easier movement and a better quality of life. Patients can consult a physical therapist or a fitness program specific to Parkinson’s for a list of exercises that will help. It may also be helpful to share experiences with other Parkinson’s disease patients to help reduce the sense of isolation.
For more information on Parkinson’s Disease, visit the Indiana Parkinson Foundation at http://www.indianaparkinson.org.