Millions of people around the world live with Parkinson’s disease, a condition that affects the nervous system. Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease typically affect movement and motor skills, making it difficult for patients to complete daily activities without assistance.
After you or a loved one are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, it is important to understand these symptoms as well as the treatments available to alleviate them. If you begin to notice common signs of Parkinson’s disease, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
The Progression of Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease symptoms start gradually and become more intense over time. In many cases, patients first experience muscle stiffness and a slight tremor or shaking in one hand. It is common for movement symptoms to affect one side of the body first before gradually impacting both sides.
As the disease progresses, many Parkinson’s disease patients experience dementia, delusions, and hallucinations. Mood changes and mental health conditions like depression and anxiety are also common.
During later-stage Parkinson’s disease, many patients are unable to complete daily tasks alone or move without assistive devices. Some patients are often bedridden and require around-the-clock care.
Common Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease
While any condition can vary from patient to patient, people with Parkinson’s disease often experience a few telltale symptoms. The following are some of the most common signs of this disorder.
Tremors or Shaking
One of the most common symptoms of Parkinson’s disease is tremors or shaking. In fact, up to 75% of people with Parkinson’s disease will experience some sort of resting tremor.
For patients, tremors usually begin in a limb, such as a hand or fingers. The affected body part may tremble even when at rest.
Oftentimes, Parkinson’s disease patients will experience what is known as a pill-rolling tremor. This occurs when a person appears to rub his or her thumb and forefinger together repeatedly. Pill-rolling tremors are usually one of the first signs of Parkinson’s disease.
Rigid muscles can occur in any part of the body for people with Parkinson’s disease. Walking and moving can become painful. In many cases, a patient’s range of motion is limited due to muscle stiffness.
During the later stages of Parkinson’s disease, stiff muscles can make it difficult for patients to move without mobility devices. Rigidity in the legs can cause a patient to become bedridden.
Slowed Movement or Bradykinesia
It is very common for Parkinson’s disease to noticeably slow movement. Due to muscle rigidity and shaking, it may take longer to complete daily tasks. These activities may feel much more difficult to handle without assistance. For example, a patient may need to take shorter steps when he or she walks. It can take longer to get from place to place. It can become more difficult to button or zip clothes or tie shoes due to tremors and shaking.
Loss of Automatic Movements
Many Parkinson’s disease patients lose the ability to perform automatic, unconscious movements. For example, a person may have a decreased ability to blink on-demand or smile. He or she may be unable to swing his or her arms while walking.
Balance and Posture Difficulties
Loss of coordination is common among Parkinson’s disease patients. They may experience difficulties with balance and become more prone to falls and accidents.
Posture changes are also common. A patient may start stooping and be unable to stand up straight. While walking, he or she may lean forward and shuffle.
Speech and Writing Changes
Many Parkinson’s disease patients experience unexplained changes in writing. For example, a patient may notice that his or her handwriting becomes smaller or more cramped. It may become very difficult to write.
Speech changes are also common. A patient may slur his or her words, speak softly, or become more monotone in his or her voice rather than having the usual inflections that are common in speech. Speaking too quickly is also common, as is hesitating before talking.
Treatment Options for Parkinson’s Disease
There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease. However, it is possible to manage and live with symptoms with medications, lifestyle changes, assistive devices, and caregivers. There are many treatment options available for patients with Parkinson’s disease, such as the following.
- Medications: Many Parkinson’s disease patients have very low levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter. As a result, many medical professionals prescribe medications that are meant to replace dopamine in the brain or mimic its effects. Common prescription drugs for Parkinson’s disease include carbidopa-levodopa, dopamine agonists, MAO B inhibitors, and COMT inhibitors.
- Surgical Procedures: Some Parkinson’s disease patients undergo a surgery called deep brain stimulation (DBS). This procedure involves sending electrical impulses to the brain through a generator implanted in the chest. DBS is not appropriate for everyone, but doctors may recommend this surgery to patients who are in the later stage of the disease.
- Live-In Care and Residential Facilities: Many later-stage Parkinson’s disease patients are unable to live alone. To support daily activities like eating, drinking, and dressing, many patients obtain live-in caregivers. Residential facilities can also provide around-the-clock care for people with Parkinson’s disease.
Recovering Compensation after a Parkinson’s Disease Diagnosis
Living with Parkinson’s disease can be challenging. If you or a loved one are diagnosed with this condition, you may experience financial hardship and emotional trauma on top of the physical symptoms. In certain situations, you may be eligible to recover compensation to pay for your medical care, lost wages, long-term costs, and more.
Significant research shows a link between Parkinson’s disease and exposure to the herbicide Paraquat. This chemical is highly toxic and banned in several countries but used by commercial farmers across the United States. Victims of Paraquat exposure who were later diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease are filing lawsuits against the herbicide manufacturers.
If you are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and believe that Paraquat is responsible, you could file a lawsuit and recover compensation to pay for your treatment. In these situations, it is important to talk to an attorney with experience handling these claims to discuss your eligibility.
As soon as possible following your diagnosis, contact a Paraquat lawsuit lawyer and take your first steps toward filing a claim.