British broadcaster Jeremy Paxman has revealed he is one of more than 10 million people living with Parkinson’s disease worldwide. It is the fastest growing neurological condition in terms of diagnosis and cases that lead to disability and death.
Although there is no cure yet, treatments for the disease have come a long way since it was first discovered over 200 years ago. People with Parkinson’s don’t have enough of the chemical dopamine, because some of the nerve cells that make it have died. Dopamine allows messages to be sent to the parts of the brain that co-ordinate movement.
We like to think of the management of Parkinson’s as a table that rests on four legs. There are drugs that replace the missing dopamine or mimic its effects; there is deep brain surgery; lots of different kinds of care; and then there is the importance of keeping patients and their families well informed and engaged.
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