Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disease whereby patients develop trembling in the arms, legs and stiffness. Patients also have difficulty with maintaining posture and with walking. These symptoms invariably worsen in the absence of treatment.
This happens when the neurons (brain cells) start to die. Typically, the neurons in the substantia nigra (a deep part of the brain) are affected, leading to decrease in the production of an important chemical called dopamine. The lack of dopamine lead to the symptoms typical of Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson's disease currently affects about 40,000 Australians. Approximately one to two people per 1,000 are estimated to have the disorder, with the incidence increasing to one in 100 of people over the age of 60. It is slightly more common in men than in women.
There is currently effective treatment for the control of symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. In a minority of cases, deep brain stimulation (brain surgery) may be indicated.