It is estimated that as many as one million Americans suffer from Parkinson’s disease, which is more than the combined number of people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and Lou Gehrig’s disease. Each year, approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. As Parkinson’s disease is not yet required to be reported to the CDC, the numbers are best estimates. These numbers do not reflect the thousands of cases that go undetected.
The following is a list of primary symptoms of PD. It is important to note that not all patients experience the full range of symptoms. Early symptoms of PD are subtle and can occur gradually. Rigidity is an increased tone or stiffness in the muscles. Rigidity causes the muscles of an affected limb stay hard as if they have contracted but they have not. Unless it is temporarily eased by medications, rigidity is always present. Tremor is the constant, uncontrollable movement affecting a patient’s limbs and, sometimes, head, neck, face and jaw. It is the first symptom in 75 percent of people with PD. When it is present, the tremor may be worse on one side of the body. Bradykinesia is the slowing down or loss of movement. This symptom is characterized by a delay in initiating movements, caused by the brain’s slowness in transmitting the necessary instructions to the appropriate parts of the body. Poor balance tends to affect people with PD. This is particularly true when they move abruptly, causing a sudden change in the position of their bodies. Some patients experience repeated falls due to poor balance. Walking problems commonly include loss of arm swing; short, shuffling steps; difficulty in turning the body; and, the sudden inability to take the next step.
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a disorder of the central nervous system that destroys an area of cells in the brain known as the substantia nigra. The destruction of these cells leads to the reduction of the supply of a vital chemical known as “dopamine” which plays an important role in directing and controlling movement. Loss of dopamine causes nerve cells to fire out of control, leaving a patient unable to direct or control movements in a normal manner.
- Educate Yourself
- Arm yourself with important information you need to know about the disease including drug treatments, alternative therapies, research advancements, social and welfare rights. The more knowledge you have about your condition the more prepared you are to make competent decisions.
- Find Support
- This is a very difficult time but you are not alone. Realize your loved ones are there for you through this difficult time. Don’t be afraid to accept their help. You may also feel the need to interact with someone that is going through the same experience as you. There are many support groups throughout the country that you can join. Becoming a member of a support group may help you cope with your symptoms, identify with other patients and even find a life-long friend.
- Be Active
- Although PD will restrict your movement, experts recommend exercise or physical therapy to reduce the movement problems. It’s also vital for your physical and mental well-being that you continue to participate in all the activities you enjoy.
Please remember, PD is a progressive disease that manifests itself differently in each patient. New medicines and treatments are available every year that can reduce the symptoms and even slow the progression of the disease. Because of the character of the disease and medical advancements, you must constantly keep up-to-date about the latest information. The more involved, knowledgeable and active you are, the less control PD will have over your life.
The HollyRod Foundation does not advocate any one treatment. Only a patient and an experienced physician can make decisions about medical treatment.
HollyRod Compassionate Care Program for Parkinson’s disease
In 2002, HollyRod partnered with the Center for Parkinson’s Research and Movement Disorders at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California and established The HollyRod Compassionate Care Program (CCP).
HollyRod Compassionate Care enhances the quality of life for people with Parkinson’s disease. This program provides care, services, and resource information to those who have little or no healthcare insurance and limited financial resources. Services provided through HollyRod Compassionate Care may include:
- Assistance obtaining medications
- Assistance obtaining treatments and therapies not covered by insurance
- Assistance obtaining adaptive equipment
- Counseling services
- Other services and care as needed
- Support Groups
Patient needs are evaluated with a comprehensive questionnaire and an interview to determine how the HollyRod Compassionate Care Program can best assist the patient. The program is available to patients in the Greater Los Angeles area. APPLY TODAY!
To find out how to get started:
Please contact us