Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that currently does not have a cure. This past month, Parkinson’s Awareness Month, we have had the opportunity to witness our community rally to help create awareness around this disease. We are optimistic that one day there will be a cure for PD and we are dedicated to helping spread awareness.
Many doctors that diagnose and study Parkinson’s Disease rely on the Hoehn and Yahr rating scale to classify the severity of symptoms. This scale is broken down into five stages which are explained below. This diagnostic tool helps doctors navigate the progression of PD, in order to recommend the best treatments to families as they go.
In stage 1, it can be hard to see distinct differences in behavior. However, common early symptoms of PD are tremors or general difficulty in movement on one side of the body.
Stage 2 is more noticeable than Stage 1. Stiffness, tremors, and a change in facial expressions are all seen at this point. Patients in stage 2 of PD are still able to balance. PD may inhibit the speed at which they walk or complete a task, but balance is unimpaired.
During stage 3, a patient will experience the same symptoms as stage 2, however, their balance begins to deteriorate making falls more common.
By stage 4, simple daily tasks and all transfers will require assistance. At this point, a person with PD is unable to live alone due to safety. It is often difficult to determine when this time comes. Generally, if you are worried about your loved one taking a fall just from walking unassisted; they should not be left on their own.
Stage 5 is considered the most advanced stage of PD. Patients will experience stiffness in their legs making it hard to stand without assistance. Up to 50 percent of people in stages 4 and 5 experience confusion, hallucinations, and delusions, and between 50-80% of patients with PD in stage 5 will experience dementia. (Alzheimer’s Association).
We at Sunways have helped many families impacted by PD. As Parkinson’s Awareness Month is quickly coming to a close, we want to highlight a few things. There is still time to get involved in your local community this month. Moving Day is a national fundraising walk event hosted by Parkinson’s Foundation. These annual walks occur across the country throughout April and May. Moving Day events include a walking course, kids area, caregivers relaxation tent, and a pavilion with yoga, dance, and Tai Chi. The goal is to encourage activities that are proven to help manage Parkinson’s symptoms and spread awareness. These events unite people to celebrate the movement and raise funds to beat this disease. Visit movingdaywalk.org for more details and to find an event near you. For our local Sunway’s followers, the Tampa Bay Walk is happening on April 30th this upcoming Saturday.