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What is Parkinson's Disease

April is Parkinson's Awareness Month. Let's learn more about this disease together.

by Anna DiMarco, Senior Physiotherapist

Parkinson’s Disease is one of the most common progressive movement disorders affecting approximately 1% of those aged 60 plus. 

Global prevalence has doubled in the last 25 years.  The most likely cause for this dramatic increase incidence is an aging population.

It is a multi-systemic and multi- symptomatic neurodegenerative disorder that may cause unintentional movements such as stiffness and rigidity, shaking, freezing, and difficulty with balance and coordination. It may also cause non movement related symptoms like depression, difficulty with talking, skin changes, loss of smell and sleep disturbances.

Many of the early symptoms are indistinguishable from the changes associated with normal aging.

Ten early symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease include:

  1. Tremor in hand, finger, face while at rest

  2. Change in handwriting: may become smaller, more crowded 

  3. Loss of smell 

  4. Trouble sleeping, sudden movements while sleeping

  5. Trouble moving and/or walking: feeling stiff, feet feeling stuck on ground

  6. Constipation

  7. Soft or low voice

  8. Facial Masking: reduced capacity for facial expression

  9. Dizziness or Fainting

  10. Stooping posture: unable to straighten up

If you have any concerns with the above symptoms, it is best to discuss the situation with your family doctor.   Medication, physiotherapy and occupational therapy may be  very helpful in symptom management and progression and in addressing movement symptoms and improving daily function.


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