Parkinson’s disease: The five stages of Parkinson’s disease and how to spot the condition

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Parkinson’s disease is characterised by the loss of cells of the brain or spinal cord, which over times leads to dysfunction and disability. It affects predominantly dopamine-producing neutrons in a specific area of the brain. The cause of Parkinson’s remains largely unknown and although there is no cure there are many treatment options including medications and surgery.

Stage one

The earliest stage of the condition with mild symptoms of Parkinson’s and only seen on the body. There is usually minimal or no functional impairment.

The symptoms in stage one can be so mild that a person will not seek medical attention.

Symptoms include tremor, rigidity and difficulty with movement on one side of the body.

Stage two

This is the moderate stage and is characterised with symptoms that occur on both sides of the body or at the midline without impairment to balance.

The symptoms felt in stage one are now more noticeable and changes in facial expression could occur.

A person will notice their posture has begun to change, decreased blinking, speech abnormalities, monotone and soft voice and will have a general slowness in their daily activities.

Stage three

Considered as the mid-stage and is characterised by a loss of balance and slowness of movement. This stage marks a major turning point in the progression disease.

Symptoms experienced in stages one and two are now progressively worsening with decreased reflexes, however a person is still fully independent in their daily lives, such as dressing and eating for themselves.

Stage four

Stage four means the disease has progressed to a severely disabling disease. Many need a walker to help them and are unable to live life as an independent person.

Many people are unable to live alone at this stage due to the significant decreased movement and reaction times and could be extremely dangerous for themselves if left unattended.

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