Parkinson's is a progressive neurological condition that affects one person in every 500. The cause for PD currently unknown, and identified genetic causes are present in only a small minority of people (approximately 5%). People with Parkinson's don't have enough of a chemical called dopamine because some nerve cells in their brain have died. Without dopamine people can find that their movements become slower so it takes longer to do things. The main symptoms of Parkinson's are tremor, rigidity and slowness of movement.
As well as affecting movement, people with Parkinson's can find that other issues, such as tiredness, pain, depression and constipation, can have an impact on their day-to-day lives. The symptoms of Parkinson's usually begin slowly, develop gradually and in no particular order.
How is PD diagnosed?
There is no specific investigation or test to diagnose PD, but rather it is the description of symptoms that you give to your doctor in combination with findings on physcial examination that suggest the diagnosis.
How is PD treated?
Drugs are the predominant means of controlling the symptoms of Parkinson's while research into finding a cure continues. In general, drug treatments aim to increase the level of dopamine that reaches the brain and stimulate the parts of the brain where dopamine works. Surgical options are available for some people with Parkinson's, depending on their symptoms, but this is not appropriate for all people.
Therapists can help in dealing with daily life, such as physiotherapists, occupational therapists. Many people with Parkinson's find complementary therapies beneficial.
How do I find out more?
Please note that this is only intended to be a very brief summary of Parkinson’s Disease, and feel free to ask your health carers for advice. In addition, the Parkinson’s Association of Ireland has an excellent website which delivers much more practical detail in a user-friendly manner. They provide information and support through their country-wide team of workers.
Click on the Parkinson's Disease association's logos on the right hand side of this page for more information.
Parkinson’s Association of Ireland Website http://www.parkinsons.ie/
Other ways of contacting the Parkinson’s Association of Ireland include:
Freephone helpline: 1 800 359 359Postal addressParkinson’s Association of Ireland:Carmichael Centre,North Brunswick Street,Dublin 7,Ireland.
Yours sincerely,Dr Sean O’Sullivan, PhDConsultant NeurologistCork University Hospital