Parkinson’s disease affects an estimated 1 million people in the United States and 5 million people worldwide. Because it’s progressive and affects so many, it’s time to learn more about this chronic, degenerative neurological disorder.  Understanding Parkinson’s disease can help you identify signs and symptoms and learn about the importance exercise plays in maintaining function.

Although the exact cause of Parkinson’s disease is unknown, research indicates a combination of genetic and environmental factors are likely responsible.  When a patient has Parkinson’s, the central nervous system is affected because of non-functioning dopamine-producing cells.  The nerve cells that produce dopamine are responsible for signaling movement to your  muscles.  Without the dopamine to coordinate movement, neurons fire irregularly making it more difficult for patients to control their movement.  Check out this video from the Michael J. Fox Foundation to see how exercise can help you live with Parkinson’s disease.

 

a diagonis of Parkinson's

 

While many of us think of Mohamed Ali or Michael J. Fox when we hear Parkinson’s disease, the signs and symptoms are gradual and may even go unnoticed; the symptoms also vary from patient to patient.  In the beginning a patient with Parkinson’s may feel lethargic, gloomy, or more irritable than normal.  Feeling slightly shaky or speech becoming mumbled and soft are other indicators.  Major symptoms of Parkinson’s typically appear in one or more of the following ways:

  • Resting tremor in hands, arms, legs, jaw or face
  • Slowness of movement
  • Balance problems, postural instability
  • Rigidity of limbs and trunk

Exercise and physical therapy become increasingly important for those living with Parkinson’s and it is the most common non-pharmacological treatment. Staying active can help patients with balance and coordination, as well as maintain muscle tone and strength.  Even though exercise won’t stop the disease it can allow the individual to feel more abled and self-assured and may prevent the rate at which the disease progresses.

With 5 million people living with Parkinson’s disease worldwide, take some time now to find a way to help those living with the disease.  Contact Jacey at Fitness and Beyond for more information. Call 402-502-2729 or visit the Fitness and Beyond website: http://fitnessandbeyondomaha.com