Parkinson’s disease is a disorder of the central nervous system caused by the death of brain cells that control the movements of the human body. Although this disease is much talked about, not everyone knows that it is divided into stages and generates a series of warning signs that go beyond the characteristic tremors in the hands. In order to clarify this and other information about Parkinson’s, the Care for Life team interviewed geriatrician Thaisa Motta. Check out!
Know the 5 stages of Parkinson’s disease
The expert reveals that there are several scales to classify the evolution of Parkinson’s disease. One of the most used in clinical practice is that of Hoehn & Yahr, which consists of 5 stages:
Stage 1) Symptoms are seen on only one side of the body (tremor with rigidity and slowing of movements).
Stage 2) Signs are bilateral and there is a change in gait. “The patient walks with shorter and slower steps and the tone of voice may be lower. However, independence remains preserved”, guarantees the doctor.
Stage 3) Symptoms become more evident, changes in balance begin and falls become frequent. Help from third parties is needed for daily activities.
Stage 4) Symptoms become disabling and help is needed to walk. “At that moment, the presence of a caregiver or family member at all times is essential”, advises Dr. Thaisa.
Stage 5) Wheelchair assistance is required for locomotion, and some patients become bedridden. You may also have delusions or hallucinations.
Early warning signs of Parkinson’s disease
It may be new to many people, but in most patients, Parkinson’s disease manifests itself with non-motor symptoms. “They consist of constipation, hyposmia (difficulty smelling), REM sleep disorders and depression”, quotes the doctor. Motor signs may appear years later, when Parkinson’s is already established. “This is the case of asymmetrical resting tremor (more noticeable on one side of the body than the other), stiffness and slow gait with trunk flexion when walking”, cites the geriatrician.
How to live with Parkinson’s disease?
Although it has no cure, Parkinson’s can and should be treated. The most indicated specialists are neurologists and geriatricians, in the case of patients over 60 years of age. “The therapy consists of drug treatment (with drugs that act on dopamine) and non-drug (physical exercise, balanced diet, physiotherapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy). In selected cases, when the medications become refractory, it is also possible to implant deep brain stimulation (DBS) electrodes”, indicates the specialist.
For each case there is a specific type of treatment and the important thing is to pay attention to the signs that your body gives, not only in tremors, which can often appear in the advanced stage of the disease. In addition, it is important to highlight that there are patients who will need the help of friends, family and caregivers to eat, change clothes and move around.
Finally, remember to see a doctor as soon as you notice the signs and symptoms!