What Is Parkinsonâ€™s Disease?
Parkinson's disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects how the person moves, including how they speak and write. Symptoms develop gradually, and may start off with ever-so-slight tremors in one hand.
People with Parkinson's disease also experience stiffness and find they cannot carry out movements as rapidly as before - this is called bradykinesia. The muscles of a person with Parkinson's become weaker and the individual may assume an unusual posture.
Parkinson's disease belongs to a group of conditions called movement disorders. Movement disorders describe a variety of abnormal body movements that have a neurological basis, and include such conditions as cerebral palsy, ataxia, and Tourette syndrome.
Approximately one million adults in the USA are thought to live with Parkinson's disease; over 60,000 are diagnosed annually. The real figure is probably much higher when taking into account those who go undetected.
According to the Parkinson's Disease Foundation, the economic toll of the disease in the USA is nearly $25 billion annually, including direct and indirect costs. The average annual medication costs for an American with Parkinson's disease is between $2,500 and $10,000.
In the United Kingdom approximately 127,000 people have Parkinson's disease or 1 in every 500 people. About 10 million people around the world are estimated to be living with Parkinson's disease.
A male has a 50% higher risk of developing Parkinson's disease than a female.
In the majority of cases, symptoms start to appear after the age of 50. However, in about 4% to 5% of cases the sufferer is younger than 40 years.