datscanParkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative brain disorder

Symptoms progress slowly overtime as nerve cells degenerate or die.

Diagnosis is clinical and depends on medical history and examination. DaT SCAN will be available for tremor diagnosis in 2012.

Movement and non-motor symptoms are associated with nerve cell loss- most notable in the basal ganglia

Main symptoms include tremor, rigidity, slowness of movement, balance problems, soft speech, and small handwriting. Non-movement problems also occur.

Parkinson's disease is not fatal. In fact many live a normal or near normal lifespan.  Given this, living better and QOL is a critical focus of care and wellbeing.

Over one Million Affected. Parkinson's disease affects over one million people in the U.S., more people than Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy, and Lou Gehrig's Disease combined.

You are not alone-over 30, 000 PWP live in Washington alone.
100,000 new cases are diagnosed each year, or 20 per 100,000 people, the incidence rising with age.

1% of people over 50 and 2% over 65 has Parkinson's disease. Average age of onset is just under 60 years of age,  Young onset is defined as onset under the age of 40 and juvenile onset under the age of 20 years old.

Both genetic and environmental factors contribute to the risk of developing PD.

The cost of treating Parkinson's disease is mounting. The annual cost of Parkinson's disease in 1997 in the U.S. was estimated to be $24,041 per patient, with an aggregate annual cost of $24 billion. The pressure to provide cost effective services is mounting.

You don't have to do it alone. Interdisciplinary care approach is often the best approach to treating this disease.

Care Guidelines Published. The American Academy of Neurology has published guidelines aimed at improving PD care.

Proactive self-care is key to success. See My Medical Chart for tools to help you along the way

You can make a difference. Exercise, stress reduction, supportive relationships and nutrition are just some of the lifestyle changes proven to improve symptoms and perhaps change the course of the disease.

Research is making significant gains in understanding the cause and treatment. NIH is the main source of research funding worldwide. Parkinson's Action Network  (PAN) plays a strong role in insuring more research dollars are allocated to PD.

Print your copy of the American Academy of Neurology Care guidelines modified for use withyour healthcare provider:

Monique L. Giroux, MDMonique L. Giroux, MD
Guest Blogger, Former Medical Director of NWPF