The Associated Presshas put together a detailed Q&A of the disease, it’s causes and the prognosis that worsen over time.
Q: What is Parkinson’s?
A: Parkinson’s is a neurologic disease that robs people of control over their movements. It typically starts with tremors, and is characterized by slow movement, a shuffling gait, stiff limbs, balance problems and slurred speech.
Q: Who gets it?
A: About 1 million Americans are living with Parkinson’s, and an estimated 4 million to 5 million people worldwide, according to the National Parkinson Foundation. It usually appears after age 60, although sometimes it can develop before age 40.
Q: What causes it?
A: The exact cause isn’t known but Parkinson’s develops when cells that produce one of the brain’s chemical messengers, called dopamine, begin to deteriorate and die. Dopamine transports signals to parts of the brain that control movement. Parkinson’s symptoms appear after enough dopamine-producing cells die that there’s too little of this neurotransmitter in the brain.
Q: Is there a cure?
A: There is no cure but there are a range of treatments, from medications that affect dopamine levels to a surgically implanted tremor-blocking device. Patients also can benefit from physical and occupational therapy.
While Parkinson’s itself isn’t considered fatal, people can die from complications of the disease.