As many as 1 million Americans are currently suffering from Parkinson’s disease (PD), and it is estimated that another 50,000 to 60,000 will be diagnosed with PD this year. Parkinson’s not only affects those who have the disease, it also affects family members and friends who must watch their loved ones struggle with treating and controlling this debilitating condition.
Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative brain disorder that affects muscle movement. Under normal circumstances certain brain cells produce dopamine, a chemical that is essential for the brain to control body movements. In people with Parkinson’s, many of those brain cells stop producing dopamine, which causes problems in the communication between the brain and muscles.
Typically, this is a slow process, and symptoms gradually worsen over time. The main symptoms of Parkinson’s include shaking and tremors, stiffness in the arms and legs, and trouble with balance, but many other secondary symptoms are also associated with the disease. Parkinson’s itself is not considered fatal, but complications from the disease can lead to death.
Of course, the ultimate goal of doctors, researchers and organizations such as the National Parkinson’s Foundation, is to find a cure, and some believe a cure is not too far on the horizon. Until a cure is found, however, those afflicted with this ailment must depend on treatments that reduce the symptoms of the disease. Among the main treatments for Parkinson’s disease are drugs, which are classified as dopaminergic medications. These drugs help replenish the dopamine levels in the brain, which reduce the symptoms of tremors and muscle rigidity. While these medications have some positive effects, they are by no means perfect. They produce side effects and do not completely control Parkinson’s symptoms.
One of the most important factors in treating Parkinson’s is for patients to take their medications on time and stay on top of their treatment. This is why the National Parkinson’s Foundation has created the Aware in Care kit. It contains important tools and information patients need when they visit the hospital. The kit includes a numerous helpful items, including a Parkinson’s disease ID bracelet and medical alert card, a helpful fact sheet discussing the condition and tools to ensure the patient remembers to take his or her medication including reminder sheets and a medications magnet.
The National Parkinson’s Foundation also provides numerous resources that are essential for anyone dealing with the disease, from patients to family and friends. The NPF is the best source for the latest information on treatments and advancements in the race for a cure. The NPF remains the top advocate for research and testing for Parkinson’s disease.
The foundation also offers information on how to deal with every aspect of the disease, from the physical to the emotional. In addition, the NPF offers ways for people dealing with Parkinson’s to network with others affected by the disease, creating a strong foundation of support for those struggling to cope with the long-term ramifications of a Parkinson’s diagnosis.