There are around 145,000 people currently living with Parkinson’s disease in the UK, and this is expected to rise to 200,000 by 2035 – it’s the fastest growing neurological condition in the world. Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s disease.
Parkinson’s affects everyone differently. The symptoms someone might have and how quickly the condition develops will differ from one person to the next. For many people, the condition can take years to progress to a point where it has a real impact on daily life.
Parkinson’s disease causes the brain to be progressively damaged. This damage can cause a variety of physical, psychological and issues related to thinking, such as body tremors, problems with movement and balance, as well as depression, anxiety, and memory problems. Many people living with Parkinson’s disease experience a worsening in their quality of life as the disease progresses. They can also be likely to develop other conditions such as dementia and are increasingly likely to suffer from a fall.
However, not everyone with Parkinson’s experiences the same combination of symptoms – they vary from person to person. Also, how Parkinson’s affects someone can change from day to day, and even from hour to hour. Symptoms that may be noticeable one day may not be a problem the next. Many of the symptoms can be treated or managed with medication and therapies, although there is currently no cure.
Many people with Parkinson’s lead active and fulfilling lives. An important part of living with Parkinson’s is understanding how it affects you and how to work around it.
About muscle and bone health
People living with dementia or with Parkinson’s disease are more likely to suffer from a fall as a result of worsening muscle and bone health which contributes to causing falls. 60% of people living with Parkinson’s disease and 66% of people living with dementia are affected by a fall every year. Falls cause several issues. They can lead to serious injury or death, or can result in a person losing their independence, or for fear of falling lead to inactivity, loss of strength and frailty which in turn can cause more falls and contribute to general ill health. Hip fractures alone cost health and care services an estimated £2.3 billion per year.
Half of all people with Parkinson’s also get problems with their bladder, causing them to need to use the toilet more often, but with the added difficulty that getting there is more tricky. If their blood pressure is dropping as well, they are at real risk at being injured by falling and ending up in hospital.
Both of these problems cause huge implications for people with Parkinson’s quality of life but importantly they can be addressed if they are picked up. However, we need to improve the way we assess and treat these issues which is what research at RICE is looking to do.