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. 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 co-ordinating movement.
There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, but there are effective treatment 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 Queensland Inc. will continue to offer information, education, counselling, advocacy and support.
Parkinson’s Victoria have a number of Parkinson’s disease fact sheets in LOTE (Languages Other Than English), please visit the Parkinson’s website to download fact sheets in Arabic, Chinese, Croatian, Greek, Italian, Macedonian, Russian, Spanish, Turkish or Vietnamese.