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What is Parkinson’s Disease?

A brain disorder that leads to shaking, stiffness, and difficulty with walking, balance, and coordination, Parkinson’s Disease Parkinson's Diseaseincludes symptoms which usually begin gradually and worsen over time. As the disease develops, people many patients have difficulty walking and talking.

Many doctors who diagnose this Parkinson’s Disease on a classification system known as Hoehn and Yahr.  This rating scale helps designate how severe the indicators present and the best treatments associated. The scale helps differentiate the five disease progression stage. The five stages help doctors evaluate how far the disease has advanced.

The Five Stages of Parkinson’s Disease

Stage 1 Parkinson’s include tremors and other difficulties associated with movement; generally exclusive to one side of the body. Unlike Epilepsy, the tremors associated with Parkinson’s are more mild and constant. Typically, Prescribed medications work effectively to mitigate ailments and symptoms at this stage.

The majority of people with stage 2 Parkinson’s can still live independently, though they may find that some tasks take longer to complete. The progression from stage 1 to stage 2 can take months or even years.  Patients at stage 2 often feel symptoms on both sides of the body (though one side may only be only slight) and sometimes experience difficulties with common speech.

Parkinson’s significantly affects daily tasks at this stage, but people are still able to complete them. Medication combined with occupational therapy may help decrease symptoms.

In the middle stage 3 Parkinson’s typically takes a major turning point in its progression. Patients often experience loss of balance and decreased reflexes. Overall,  movements slow down.

During stage 4, patients can usually stand without assistance. However, walking may require an assistance device such as a can or walker .  Many patients require living assistance at this stage due to the decreases in movement and reaction times. Living alone at stage 4 or later may make many daily tasks impossible, and it can be extremely dangerous.

In the most advanced stage of Parkinson’s disease, patients offer report stiffness in the legs and frozenness when attempting to stand, making it impossible to stand or walk on their own. People in this stage require wheelchairs and often need around-the-clock assistance to prevent falls.

What does treatment for Parkinson’s Disease look like?

No standardized treatment plan exists for Parkinson’s disease. Treatment for each person with Parkinson’s is unique based on his or her symptoms. Treatments include medication and surgical therapy. Other treatments include lifestyle modifications, like getting more rest and exercise.

If warranted, the specialists may recommend surgical intervention.  In a procedure known as a subthalamotomy, the surgeon eliminates a small portion of the brain called the subthalamic nucleus.  Research indicates this relieves motor symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease and lessens tremors, vertigo, unbalance, and bradykinesia (slowness of movement). To identify the exact placement of the subthalamus, the surgeon employs diagnostic procedures such as brain scans, MRI or CT, prior to surgery.

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