The first thing that comes to mind when people think of Parkinson’s disease is its most well-known symptom: a tremor in your hand. But there is much more to the disease than just a tremor, and each person is affected in their own unique way.
What is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson\’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that affects your body’s ability to produce dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical in your brain that helps you initiate and control your movements. Symptoms can range from uncontrollable shaking in your limbs (known as a tremor), slow movement, or a rigid stiffness in your body. It also has some unrelated symptoms like loss of smell, fatigue, and blood pressure issues.
Living positively with Parkinson\’s disease
The realities of living with this chronic disease means you are no longer able to do minimal everyday tasks with ease; like throwing a ball for your dogs or having a steady grip on your pen when writing. Your doctor will recommend a lot of exercise along with your medication to help you cope with living with a progressive neurological disorder. It can take about five to ten years from the initial diagnosis before conditions start to get really serious. There are various ways you can mitigate the symptoms of Parkinson’s as will be discussed below..
Any type of exercise is better than no exercise as it’s important to keep your body moving. Boxing and cycling come highly recommended to people who live with Parkinson\’s. This is because these forms of exercise use both sides of your body in opposition (right arm, left leg movements), which are great for improving coordination and strength. Exercise that keeps your heart rate up, like aerobics, helps to increase the amount of dopamine your body produces. You can try any safe exercises like walking, swimming, hiking, dancing, and yoga to improve your coordination, strength and balance.
Your doctor will talk you through several different medication options that can greatly improve your quality of life. These medications mostly target movement symptoms, which can be frustrating when you also have conditions that are non-movement related. Non-movement related symptoms can be things like fatigue and brain fog. Seldom talked about is the depression that comes with watching yourself lose a grip. Your doctor is then more likely to recommend additional treatment plans to help you with other symptoms. It’s important to keep communication open with your practitioner so that you can get the best possible help.
Some doctors may suggest deep brain stimulation, which is not a cure for Parkinson’s but rather a procedure that helps you control your symptoms. Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a surgery used to control Parkinson’s motor symptoms including tremor, slowness of movement and stiffness. This method works by delivering electrical pulses to specific areas of your brain that control movement. There are risk factors to this procedure, and you should only have DBS performed at a center with various experts who will also be able to evaluate whether you are a good candidate for the surgery.
Keep in mind that Parkinson’s is different for everyone, and you should not compare your condition and symptoms to others as each case is unique. Learn as much as you can about your diagnosis and do some investigation into complimentary therapies. Parkinson’s is easier to deal with when you have a network of support from friends and family who can help you maintain your condition. Unlike some neurological disorders, you can manage your disease and live a full life.
Sources: Parkinson’s Disease