What is Parkinson's?

Written by
Helen West

April 11th 2018 is World Parkinson's Day. It's a day dedicated to raising awareness of the disease, and showing support for sufferers.

Parkinson's disease affects millions of people around the world. In the UK, there are an estimated 127,000 people living with the condition. It is most common in those aged 50 or over, but it can affect people of all ages.

What is Parkinson’s?

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological condition. It isn't known what causes it, but we do know that areas of the brain get damaged over time. As a result, individuals with Parkinson’s don’t have enough dopamine, which is a chemical that transmits information from one brain cell to another.

Image of brain cells

Parkinson’s affects the way people move, and is often associated with shakiness and tremors. However, there are a wide range of symptoms that sufferers may experience. Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for Parkinson’s, but symptoms can be managed.

Symptoms

The most common symptoms of Parkinson’s are involuntary shaking of particular parts of the body (tremor); slow movement; and rigidity (stiffness and inflexible muscles).

Other physical symptoms include freezing, which is when you feel like your feet are glued to the ground; restless legs, which is an overwhelming urge to move your legs; and problems swallowing. These are known as motor symptoms.

People with Parkinson’s may also experience non-motor symptoms, which include anxiety, dementia, and depression.

Not everyone experiences the same symptoms, so if you think you or someone close to you may be experiencing the symptoms of Parkinson’s, it’s best to speak with your GP. Parkinson's UK have created a short video, which explains Parkinson's in more detail. Watch it below. 

How could a mobility product help someone with Parkinson’s?

Parkinson’s is a condition that impacts movement. If you’re suffering from the disease, a mobility product may make it easier for you to carry out daily tasks.

Bathing aids

A bath seat or shower seat can help someone with Parkinson’s feel more confident while bathing. They reduce the risk of slips and falls, particularly if you are experiencing problems with your balance.

At Middletons, we offer a range of bathing aids, from our Riviera bath lift that gently and safely lowers you in and out of your bath, to our free-standing shower stools, which allow you to sit down while showering.

Eating and drinking

Those who suffer from reduced grip, shakiness, or tremors may benefit from specially designed cutlery. Specially designed cutlery, such as our tea-cup, make it easier to eat and drink without worrying about spills.

Walking sticks

Low blood pressure, fatigue, and dizziness are all physical symptoms that Parkinson’s sufferers may experience. A walking stick could assist you in getting around and maintaining your independence. If fatigue is making it difficult for you to complete daily tasks like going shopping, a walking stick with a built-in seat may help.

Walking frames

Another symptom of the Parkinson’s is slowness of movement. If you experience this, you may find that you walk with short, shuffling steps, or notice that it takes you a long time to do things you used to find simple. A walking frame can provide you with the additional support you need to carry on with your daily life.

Frames without wheels are generally regarded as most stable, but they’re best for using to cover short distances. Wheeled walkers are better for covering longer distances.

A walking aid can help you lift your feet, walk better, and feel more stable and confident while you are out. However, Parkinson’s UK recommends consulting a physiotherapist before using a walking aid, to ensure that you have the right equipment for your needs.

Treatment of Parkinson’s

Although there is no cure for Parkinson’s, the condition can be controlled to help you maintain a good quality of life. Medication is the main treatment, but physical therapies such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy may also help people manage their symptoms.

Your GP will be able to tell you about the different options available to you if you suffer from Parkinson’s.

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