Parkinson’s is a chronic and progressive neurological condition that affects movement, therefore it is known as a ‘movement disorder’. There is currently no cure. Parkinson’s has a range of motor and non-motor symptoms which result from the reduction of dopamine, a chemical in the brain.
The World Health Organisation observes that Neurological disorders, such as Parkinson’s, are “one of the greatest threats to public health”. Because of its chronic progressive nature, insidious onset, complicated and diverse motor and non-motor symptoms and limited management options Parkinson’s is one of the most challenging diseases.
People diagnosed with Parkinson’s have a complex range of movement related symptoms including tremor, muscle rigidity, poverty of movement and loss of normal posture with a tendency for falls. However, lesser known is the major impact on non-motor functions such as depression, anxiety, behavioural disturbances and cognitive impairment, sleep disorders, hallucinations, dementia, sensory deficits such as loss of smell and visual problems and impaired speech.
Conservative estimates indicate that one in every 340 people in Australia or around 70,000 people live with Parkinson’s. Parkinson’s Australia estimates that up to 700,000 people are directly impacted by Parkinson’s, they either have Parkinson’s, provide care to someone with Parkinson’s, have a family member or close friend affected by Parkinson’s. The estimated growth rate of Parkinson’s is 4% over the next 20 years compared with a population growth of only 1%.