Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative brain disorder that progresses slowly in most people. The main symptoms of Parkinson’s – tremor, rigidity and slowness of movement – are also the main symptoms of a number of conditions that are grouped together under the term parkinsonism. “Parkinsonism” is the umbrella term used to describe a number of conditions that share symptoms of slowed movement. They also have other symptoms such as tremor and rigidity in common.
Types of Parkinson’s and Parkinsonism
Idiopathic Parkinson’s disease
Idiopathic Parkinson’s is often what is referred to as Parkinson’s Disease and is the most common type, accounting for the majority of Parkinsonisms. This type of Parkinsonism does not have a specific cause and the progression of the disease varies depending on the individual. The main symptoms include tremor, rigidity and slowness of movement. Treatment is most effective for this type of Parkinson’s with better treatment outcomes from earlier intervention. Early onset Parkinson’s refers to when individuals develop Idiopathic Parkinson’s disease before 40 years of age.
Vascular parkinsonism in an atypical form of Parkinsonism which affects people with restricted blood supply to the brain. This is more common in older individuals who have problems with diabetes or have suffered multiple strokes. Symptoms may include difficulty speaking or swallowing and making facial expressions. Other symptoms include memory difficulties or confused thought, cognitive problems, and incontinence.
A small number of people develop Parkinsonisms through the use of certain drugs such as neuroleptic drugs used to treat psychiatric disorders. Often this type is static however; there are cases where symptoms become progressively worse. Most people recover within months and sometimes even within hours or days once drug use is ceased.
Dementia with Lewy bodies
This type of Parkinsonism is also progressive, similar to idiopathic Parkinsons with symptoms differing slightly with memory and concentration, attention, and language difficulties commonly seen. Parkinsonism symptoms include slowness of movement, stiffness, and tremor.
It has not yet been confirmed that Parkinson’s disease is a hereditary condition passed on genetically. It is thought that although it is not directly inherited, some people may have genes that increase the possibility of developing Parkinson’s when combined with other factors such as environmental toxins or viruses.
Juvenile Parkinson’s is a term used to refers to the onset of Parkinson’s in individuals under the age of 20 years.
Other types of atypical parkinsonism
Some individuals present with tremors however are not diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. If tremors are the only symptom, and they differ from the tremor typical of Parkinson’s, then the individual may be diagnosed with essential tremor, dystonic tremor, indeterminate tremor, or atypical tremor. These conditions can eventually manifest into diagnoses of Multiple System Atrophy (MSA), Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus, or Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP).
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This article was written by our Speech Pathologist Ashleigh Fattah who is a Speech Pathology Australia member. If you have speech pathology related questions, make an appointment. We‘ll provide you with simple and effective therapy targeted to your concerns. Contact us today.