TPwP and Parkinson's

What is Parkinson's?

Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological condition that can affect people from all walks of life.  Parkinson's is a condition where a neurotransmitter called dopamine is not produced at adequate levels in the brain. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that relay messages between cells in the brain. 

There is a large range of symptoms that people living with Parkinson's can experience.  A person living with Parkinson's may only get a few symptoms or could get a range of symptoms. Everybody's Parkinson's will be different and no two people will have the same symptoms and the progression of their symptoms can be at very different rates.  

Parkinson's symptoms

Motor Symptoms

The motor symptoms can include:

  • Tremor (usually occurring at rest - the classic slow, rhythmic tremor of Parkinson's disease typically starts in one hand, foot, or leg and can eventually affect both sides of the body)
  • Bradykinesia (slowness of movement)
  • Muscle Rigidity (may feel like a cogwheel or ratchet when the limb is moved passively through its range of motion or it may be consistent like bending a lead pipe)
  • Postural Instability (falls- usually a late symptom in Parkinson's)

Non-Motor symptoms

The non-motor symptoms of Parkinson's are very varied and can include:

  • Sensory dysfunction including loss of the sense of smell and visual disturbances.
  • Mood disorders including anxiety, apathy and depression
  • Constipation and gastrointestinal issues
  • Fatigue, pain and cramping
  • Speech problems including changes in verbal fluency similar to stuttering and decreased volume of speech
  • Sexual issues including impotence
  • Changes in hand writing (it often becomes smaller in height and the written words may be unclear by the end of the sentence).
  • Postural hypotension (drop in blood pressure on rising from a lying or sitting position) 
  • Excessive salivation
  • Sleep disorders including REM sleep disorder (where a person acts out their dreams), intense or vivid dreams and excessive daytime sleepiness 
  • Swallowing difficulties
  • Sweating and increased sensitivity to temperatures. 
  • Cognitive changes - changes in the ability to think and reason, memory difficulties, personality changes and dementia
  • Urinary urgency, frequency and incontinence
  • Mental health issues including hallucinations and delusions. Impulsive control disorders (binge eating, excessive shopping or gambling) may be an issue and this is usually a side effect of some Parkinson's medications

Parkinson's Australia