Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder predominantly affecting the elderly population above the age of 60. However It can also affect younger people and core motor features are bradykinesia (slowness of movements), rigidity (stiffness), tremors, and loss of balance.
There are non-motor features like constipation, sleep disturbances, depression, psychosis, and memory disturbances which are mostly seen in the later part of the disease.
In an exclusive conversation with Zee English, Dr Guruprasad H, Senior Consultant Neurologist, at Manipal Hospital talks about the unusually common signs like changes in handwriting and signature that can indicate the onset of Parkinson’s disease.
Dr Guruprasad says, “Usually one side of the body is affected initially either in the upper limb or lower limb, in the form of either slowness, stiffness or tremors. Whereas tremors are visible to the patient or the family members, slowness or stiffness is not obvious in the initial stages of the disease.”
“These patients may present as a change in handwriting especially small letters (micrographia), slowness in day-to-day activities like combing, brushing, decreased arm swing while walking on one side etc. stiffness on one side initially in Parkinson’s disease can present as pain in the shoulder (commonly diagnosed as frozen shoulder), dragging of the leg while walking on side etc. volume of the speech may be reduced (hypophonia) along with a reduction in facial expression (masked facies),” remarks Dr Guruprasad.
After a few years, gait can get affected by short steps, slowness, and shuffling with occasional freezing and falls. One needs to be watchful of the above symptoms and take consultation with a movement disorder specialist or a neurologist for proper recognition of the underlying condition I.e Parkinson’s disease, appropriate diagnosis and treatment.
Early Onset of Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease is a movement disorder that primarily affects movement, making body movements slow and stiff, including walking. Initially, the disease affects one side of the body and gradually progresses to the other side.
In most cases, in about 90%, Parkinson’s disease progresses over time, and only 10% of her individuals show benign symptoms. After 4-5 years of treatment, Parkinson’s patients usually develop motor complications such as fluctuations and hallucinations.
Parkinson’s disease can have functional consequences that affect employability, writing and driving skills. Additionally, many people with Parkinson’s disease experience non-motor symptoms such as sleep disturbances, pain, depression, anxiety, constipation, and dementia, depending on the stage of the disease. should be borrowed to deal with these conditions.
Families are also always advised to provide mental and physical support to people dealing with Parkinson’s disease. These individuals may need help with daily activities such as Frequent Medication and assistance with eating if food is difficult to swallow
Common signs indicating Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease signs and symptoms appear gradually. They frequently begin with a minor tremor in one hand and a sensation of rigidity throughout the body. Other signs start to appear over time, and some people may eventually acquire dementia.
Changes in handwriting, signature, and walking abnormalities are among the early signs of Parkinson’s disease. Micrographia, or changes in handwriting, is often one of the earliest symptoms that people with Parkinson’s disease experience. It is characterized by a gradual decrease in the size of handwriting and can make writing difficult or even impossible.
Changes in signature are also common in Parkinson’s disease, and people may notice that their signature becomes smaller, more crowded, or less legible over time. This is because the disease can affect the fine motor control necessary for writing and signing.
Walking abnormalities, such as a shuffling gait, decreased arm swing, or difficulty initiating movement, are also common in Parkinson’s disease. These motor symptoms can make it difficult to walk, balance, and perform daily activities, and can also lead to falls.
It is important not to ignore these symptoms because early diagnosis and treatment can help slow the progression of the disease and improve the quality of life.
Parkinson’s Disease Treatment
While there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, medications and other therapies can help manage the symptoms and improve function. It is important to speak with a healthcare professional if you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms, as they can provide a proper evaluation and diagnosis.