World Parkinson’s Day

Parkinson’s Disease is a chronic, life long, neurological disorder. Known as Parkinson’s or PD, it progressively worsens over time. Parkinson’s develops with mild tremors and changes to fine motor skills, to eventually affecting gross motor skills across the entire body.

As we observe Parkinson’s Awareness Day, it’s nice to raise awareness about the condition, how it impacts those with it, either directly as suffers, or indirectly as friends, family, or carers. Helping educate and bettering the understanding for those living with PD will help encourage better research, improving treatments, and ultimately increasing support networks.

Understanding Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s primarily affects the dopamine production in a specific region of the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter (the bodies chemical messenger), which is used to provide nerve signals throughout the body. It is crucial for smooth, coordinated movement.
When these neurons deteriorate or die, it leads to a depletion of dopamine, resulting in unsteady movements, which are characteristic to that of Parkinson’s.
The symptoms of Parkinson’s can vary amongst sufferers and there isn’t one Parkinson’s journey which is the same. There are around 150,000 suffers in the UK and it is now the fastest growing neurological condition in the world.

How Parkinson’s Disease occurs

The exact causes remain unclear, however, it is believed that a combination of genetics and environmental factors play a role. Some potential risk factors include ageing (commonly diagnosed in individuals over the age of 60), genetic predisposition and family history, brain injuries, and exposure to certain toxins and chemicals which can result in genetic mutations.

Common Symptoms:

• Involuntary tremors and shaking, often in the hands or fingers.
• Slow laboured movement (Bradykinesia).
• Muscle rigidity with stiffness and inflexibility in muscles.
• Difficulty with balance and coordination.
Slow, stiff and unsteady movements with restricted range of movement can cause changes in postural alignment, which can further increase loss of balance and increases the risk of falls.
Symptoms are not only limited to motor skills. Parkinsons’s has also been reported to cause non-motor symptoms such as:
• Cognitive impairment.
• Lack of facial expression (Hypomimia).
• Sleep disturbances.
• Autonomic dysfunction (our automatic nerve system which regulates organs such as our heart, lungs and digestive system).

Treatment and Management:

Whilst there is currently no cure for Parkinson’s, several treatment options are available to manage symptoms and improve quality of life. These may usually include medications, speech therapy, and physical therapy. Lifestyle modifications with regular exercise and a balanced diet are advised, and getting adequate rest will also play a crucial role in managing symptoms and slowing the disease progression.
There is some evidence that orthosis can help with Parkinson’s symptoms and gait deviations. Patients can present with rheumatoid like deformities to their fingers and toes, so hand and wrist supports, and appropriate lightweight, roomy footwear can really enhance a sufferers standard of living.
Although Parkinsons is a motor disease, there are links to peripheral nerve disturbances (how the nerves perceive sensation) which can further affect balance and walking ability. It has been reported that sufferers often experience proprioceptive (spatial awareness and sensory feedback) deficits such as loss of limb positioning, altered touch, and loss of ankle reflexes.
Ankle Foot Orthosis and ankle splinting, when in combination with lightweight, cushioned footwear can result in improvements to the loss of position and balance issues reported, and will improve mechanical alignment, posture, and help reduce risk for falling.

Supporting the cause

Parkinson’s Awareness Day serves as a reminder of the importance of support and advocacy for those affected by the disease. Organisations like the Michael J. Fox Foundation, Parkinson’s Foundation, Parkinson’ UK and local support groups play a vital role in providing resources, education, and a sense of community for individuals living with PD and their caregivers.
By raising awareness, advocating for research funding, and promoting understanding and empathy, we can make a meaningful difference in the lives of those affected by Parkinson’s Disease.
Orthotix offers a variety of medically approved supports, suitable for Parkinson’s which can be found on the Orthotix Website. Information and advice is also available via Blogs and Videos, and via the messaging service where you can chat to a member of our team.
If you would like to speak to one of our specialists please get in touch by calling us on 0290 370696, or emailing us at [email protected]
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