Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive neurological condition, second most common to dementia, with interesting diagnosis and population statistics.
© Danielle Robertson Consulting Pty Ltd t/as DR Care Solutions
On average, 37 Australians are diagnosed with the condition each day and an estimated 100,000 Australians live with the disease.
Of concern is the rise of diagnosis in younger age groups, with 20% of those diagnosed daily being Australians under the age of 65. Thankfully, support initiatives for Young Onset Parkinson’s are growing in number.
We’re discussing the condition as April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month and 11 April is World Parkinson’s Day, the birthday of the London doctor, Dr James Parkinson, who first diagnosed “shaking palsy” in 1817.
The main symptoms of the disease are tremor, slowness of movement, muscle rigidity and postural instability. There are many symptoms and while a tremor is a common symptom, around 30% of cases do not involve tremors.
With no one test, diagnosis is difficult. Diagnosis is made by a specialist, usually a neurologist, who makes reference to clinical signs and symptoms.
What is known is that the symptoms appear when the brain cannot make enough dopamine to control movement. Why this happens is the subject of extensive medical research.
To date, researchers have identified the following possible causes:
Age - the prevalence of Parkinson’s increases three-fold in people over the age of 65.
Genetics - around 15% of people diagnosed with Parkinson’s have a family history of the condition.
Environmental factors - exposure to chemicals, herbicides, solvents and hard metals has been linked to the condition.
Oxidative stress - cell or tissue damage occurs due to an imbalance in free radicals and antioxidants in our body brought on by diet, lifestyle or living environments.
Currently, there is no cure though there are medications that focus on restoring the balance of dopamine in the brain to decrease or slow the symptoms.
An exciting development is the collaboration between Shake It Up Australia and the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, the largest private funder of Parkinson’s research in the world.
Started in 2011, the collaboration seeks to speed up the introduction of improved therapies on the path to finding a cure.
If you live with Parkinson’s, please consider taking part in the largest study of Parkinson’s genetics ever undertaken, the Australian Parkinson’s Genetic Study linking in with the Global Parkinson’s Genetics Program.
Released on 7 April 2022 during Parkinson’s Awareness Month, involvement in the study is simple. It requires the completion of an online questionnaire and supply of a saliva sample. Visit this link for more details.
For guidance on caring for your loved one who lives with Parkinson’s, please feel free to call me, Danielle Robertson, for an initial discussion on how to set up the right care, support and assistance at the right time and in the right place.
 Parkinson's Australia
 Young Onset Parkinson's Exchange
 Symptoms of Parkinson's Disease
 Incidence, Prevalence & Possible Causes of Parkinson's Disease
 Shake It Up: Australian Parkinson's Disease Genetics Study