While Michael J. Fox may be one of the most well-known and famous faces of Parkinson’s disease, it’s not a disease that is easily understood. Moreover, according to David Shprecher, DO, the Movement Disorders director at Banner Sun Health Research institute, there are a lot of misconceptions about the disease. Early detection and proper treatment can make a huge difference. The key is in understanding the facts.
Here, Dr. Shprecher shares his top five things you need to know about Parkinson’s disease.
- Parkinson’s disease can strike at almost any age. It becomes more common as we get older, impacting nearly 2 percent of Americans over the age of 65.
- Parkinson’s is diagnosed based on motor symptoms, like reduced facial expression, smaller handwriting or problems walking; but it also causes a range of non-motor problems including:
- Acting out of dreams
- Cognitive problems
- Poor sense of smell
- Low blood pressure with standing.
- Patients and families should be proactive to prevent hospital errors, including missed or late medication doses, or use of inappropriate antipsychotics and nausea drugs (that can worsen PD symptoms). For more information, go to parkinson.org
- Parkinson’s is not simple to diagnose. A number of conditions can be mistaken for Parkinson’s disease, such as stroke or normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH). Several, more serious, conditions including Lewy body dementia and progressive supranuclear palsy, are frequently misdiagnosed as Parkinson’s Disease.
- Accurate diagnosis and earlier treatment with medication and lifestyle changes can ensure a better quality of life for people with the disease.
Movement Disorder specialists are Parkinson’s disease experts
A neurologist, particularly a movement disorder specialist, will have the training and experience necessary to provide a more accurate and comprehensive approach to diagnosis and treatment. The specialist will employ a team approach that includes the primary care doctor, social work, and physical therapy. The Parkinson’s Movement Disorder Alliance offers a list of movement disorder specialists in Arizona. Banner Neuro Wellness in Gilbert and Sun City offer exercise classes tailored to Parkinson’s diseases.
Banner Health neurologists specialize in diagnosis and treatment of Parkinson’s disease and offer rehabilitation programs. They work in partnership with Banner Sun Health Research Institute, which conducts research and clinical trials.
The Parkinson’s Disease Foundation notes that while everyone does not have the same symptoms, the primary symptoms include:
- Tremor of the hands, arms, legs, jaw and face
- Bradykinesia or slowness of movement
- Rigidity or stiffness of the limbs and trunk
- Postural instability
Approximately a million Americans are living with Parkinson’s disease with roughly 60,000 diagnosed each year, according to the Foundation. The organization explains that the disease is “a chronic and progressive movement disorder, meaning that the symptoms continue and worsen over time.