Parkinson's disease is a movement disorder typically presenting with symptoms such as slowness of movement, muscle rigidity, instability and tremor. It was named after an English doctor, James Parkinson, who first described cases of a "shaking palsy" in 1817. Four decades later Jean-Martin Charcot added rigidity to Parkinson's excellent clinical description and attached the name Parkinson's disease to the syndrome.
In India, however, medical practitioners knew of this disease some two thousand years ago, named the symptoms and treated them with a formulation similar to levodopa which is in use today.
There are estimated to be some 80,000 Australians living with Parkinson's disease. A diagnosis can occur at any age with the most common age of diagnosis being 50-60 years of age.
What triggers the disease is still unknown, but we understand that the neurones in a particular area of the brain known as the substantia nigra are damaged or lost. This results in a reduction in dopamine, a powerful brain chemical that assists in coordinating movement.
There is no cure for Parkinson's disease, but there are effective treatment and therapy options that can help manage symptoms, so people with Parkinson's disease can continue to enjoy many years of independent and productive lives.
There is still much to learn about what causes Parkinson's disease, but research is ongoing and there is every hope that outcomes for people with Parkinson's disease will continue to improve and that ultimately there will be a cure. In the meantime, community organisations like Parkinson's NSW will continue to offer information, education, counselling, advocacy and support.
Living with Parkinson's Disease
Challenges and Positive Steps for the Future.