Parkinson’s disease occurs when nerve cells within the brain break down or die. Pay attention to the subtle clues that somebody you love could be affected. It may help to look at their handwriting.
How Parkinson’s disease affects the brain
The Mayo Clinic explains how the loss of neurons in the brain reduces the amount of dopamine.
Dopamine is a chemical messenger and so, without it, unusual brain activity ensues.
Parkinson’s disease usually affects people aged 60 and above, with the risk of developing the condition increasing with age.
There seems to be a genetic link too, with close relatives of a Parkinson’s sufferer more likely to develop the condition themselves.
For an unknown reason, men are more likely to have Parkinson’s disease than women.
If your loved one tends to have big handwriting, but is now writing much smaller, it’s a sign of Parkinson’s.
For the person with Parkinson’s, they may find it more difficult to write.
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This is because Parkinson’s affects the way the body moves. To go into greater detail, the charity Parkinson’s UK lists symptoms of the disease.
Parkinson’s UK noted that motor symptoms affect movement – with three of the main symptoms of the condition falling under this umbrella.
The most common symptoms include: a tremor, stiffness, and slowness of movement.
A tremor (shaking) is an uncontrollable movement, usually affecting the hand.
Tremors may occur during rest, with the most noticeable movement known as the “pill-rolling” rest tremor.
The “pill-rolling” tremor looks as if the person is trying to roll a pill between their thumb and index finger.
Then there’s an action tremor. For example, the hand may shake while holding a cup or a newspaper.
Rigidity in Parkinson’s can stop muscles from stretching and relaxing, which can lead to pain and muscle cramps.
An example of rigidity is the inability to swing your arms while walking as the muscles are too tight.
Rigidity is also what makes writing more difficult, hence why people with this condition end up with much smaller handwriting.
Slowness of movement
The medical term for slowness of movement is bradykinesia, and it may mean the sufferer walks with short, shuffling steps.
Another illuminating sign is lacking coordination and finding it takes longer to complete simple tasks.
Other motor symptoms include falls and dizziness, freezing and muscle cramps.
Non-motor symptoms can include pain, fatigue, low blood pressure and bladder issues.
Parkinson’s is a very individual disease. This means that not everybody with the condition will share the same experience.
These symptoms are common, but it’s likely people will experience a mixture of different symptoms.