April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month

by Lois Etienne on April 6, 2011

in Senior Health and Safety

Senior-Man-with-CaregiverIn the United States, as many as 1 million people live with Parkinson’s disease – that’s more than the combined number of people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and Lou Gehrig’s disease. As the owner of Home Instead Senior Care, we get to personally see folks whose lives have been affected by this disease.

Parkinson’s disease is a brain disease best known for the trembling it causes and the difficulty with walking, movement, and coordination. It is an incurable, chronic disease and gradually affects the muscles and mental capacity. An estimated seven to 10 million people worldwide live with Parkinson’s.

 As is the case with many neurological disorders, the cause of Parkinson’s disease is not known. But scientists and researchers are working diligently to uncover the possible cause or causes, including genetic and environmental factors.

I don’t know the percentages but I thought this was interesting. In a large scale study by some Danish researchers, they found that as early as eight years before diagnosis, Parkinson’s sufferers may exhibit early symptoms during their REM, or Rapid Eye Movement, sleep. Normally, to prevent us from actually acting out our dreams the body usually shuts down our muscle movement during REM sleep. But this muscle inhibition can be released during REM and the person can display a range of behaviors from simple arm and leg spasms to kicking, shouting, seizing or jumping out of bed.

For more information on Parkinson’s, go to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation website: www.pdf.org/parkinson_awareness.

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