Parkinson’s disease is a quite complicated condition that is progressive and gets worse as time goes by. It’s considered to be highly individual since it affects patients differently so that they experience varying symptoms. The following symptoms, however, seem to be quite common among a considerable number of patients suffering from the condition:
• Lack of coordination.
• Balance difficulty as the disease progresses.
• Walking difficulty as the disease advances.
• Speaking difficulties.
• Uncontrollable shaking.
• Stiffness in limbs.
Doctors who diagnose this brain disorder use a particular rating scale known as the Hoehn and Yahr scale to determine the severity of the condition. The scale is divided into the following five stages which physicians use to determine how far the condition has advanced:
1. Stage one
This is when the disease begins at its mildest form. Even though there are some slightly noticeable symptoms at this stage, they are not as severe as to interfere with the patient’s overall lifestyle or daily tasks.
The signs might even be missed in some cases, but people around the patient are quite likely to note some changes in the posture, facial expression, and even walking. One of the most distinctive ways to identify this stage is that the symptoms affect only one side of the patient’s body. The use of prescribed medication can reduce symptoms at this stage.
2. Stage two
This can be considered as a moderate form of the disease, that involves much more noticeable symptoms that include stiffness, trembling and tremors and some slight facial expressions changes. Muscles can become stiff at this stage, and while they prolong task completion, they won’t affect the patient’s balance.
Difficulties walking might be experienced, and posture changes might as well occur. Both sides of the body will now get affected, though one side might be worse.
Most people at the second stage can still live alone, though with slight difficulties. Progression from the first to the second stage can take months or even years to occur.
3. Stage three
Considered as the middle stage, this is when the progression of the condition is most noticeable, with loss of balance and decreased reflexes occurring. The patient’s overall motion also gets slower, which is why falls increase at this stage. Medication and occupational therapy can be used at this stage to reduce the symptoms.
4. Stage four
At this stage, patients can stand without assistance but might require devices to walk since movement is significantly impaired.
A majority of patients cannot live alone while at this stage and might not be able to complete their daily tasks. This is the stage where the patient’s independence comes to an end.
5. Stage five
This is the most advanced stage where patients will experience difficulties in standing and walking due to advanced stiffness in the legs. A patient can’t stand without assistance as they will more than likely fall. Besides, they will need a wheelchair to move around.
Support is required at all times of the day, which is why some patients might get transferred to Parkinson’s Center for Integrative Care and other specialized centers. Hallucinations and delusions, and dementia are also quite common at this stage.
Thought the symptoms are likely to worsen as time goes by, it’s worth noting that some of the patients don’t make it to stage five. Another vital thing to note is that it will take varying amounts of time for the symptoms to progress from one stage to the next in different patients. As if that’s not enough, some patients also fail to experience all the symptoms. Even though that’s the case, diagnosing the disease early enough allows for effective treatment which goes a long way in alleviating symptoms.