What is Parkinson's disease?
Parkinson's disease (PD) is a chronic, progressive neurological disorder resulting from the loss of brain cells that produce dopamine, a neurochemical controlling motor functions. When 80% of the dopamine-producing cells are gone, slowness of movement (bradykinesia), tremor, and rigidity appear. As the disease progresses, other symptoms such as poor posture, balance instability, and difficulty with speech and swallowing may occur.
It is estimated that approximately 15,000 Nevadans, over one million Americans and between 7 - 10 million people worldwide are living with PD. Every 9 minutes another American is diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease!
The disease is named after the English Dr. James Parkinson who published the first detailed description in 1817. World Parkinson's Day is on April 11th, the birthday of James Parkinson. People with Parkinson's who have increased the public's awareness of the condition include the boxer Muhammad Ali, actor Michael J. Fox, Olympic cyclist Davis Phinney, Reverend Jesse Jackson, Pope John Paul II, Attorney General Janet Reno, and actor Alan Alda.
The experience of living with Parkinson's over the course of a lifetime is unique to each person. As symptoms and progression vary from person to person, neither you nor your doctor can predict which symptoms you will get, when you will get them or how severe they will be. Even though broad paths of similarity are observed among individuals with PD as the disease progresses, there is no guarantee you will experience what you see in others.