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Health SceneTop six things you need to know about Parkinson’s disease.BY KAREN FRESHWATER, physician assistant, Bronson Neuroscience CenterWorldwide, more than 10 mil- lion people are living with Parkin- son’s disease. In the United States, about one million people are living with it. Most ofthese people are middle-aged or older and men are about one and a half times more likely to be affected than women according to the Parkinson’s Foundation.ONE: Parkinson’s disease is a move- ment disorder. Dopamine – a chemical that sends messages between brain cells – tells your brain, which then tells your body, when to move. Parkinson’s disease is caused when cells that make dopamine die and stop telling your body to move.TWO: No one knows what causes Parkinson’s disease. However, some re- searchers believe that both family histo- ry (genetics) and environmental factors affect whether someone gets it. Some genes have been linked to the develop- ment of Parkinson’s disease. But, many people with these genes never develop it.THREE: Neurologists look for five key things when they diagnose Parkin- son’s disease, including:• resting tremor (shaking)• stiffness• slowness• impaired balance• shuffling walkThere are five stages ofParkinson’s disease:• Stage 1. Mild symptoms that do notinterfere with the quality of life.• Stage 2. Symptoms slightly worsen.Daily activities become more difficultand take more time to complete.• Stage 3. Impaired daily activities likedressing, eating and brushing teeth; loss of balance, slower movements and falls.• Stage 4. Severe symptoms. Help is needed with walking and performing daily activities.• Stage 5. Advanced stage. Unable to walk and in need of full time assis- tance with living.FOUR: There is no cure for Parkin- son’s disease. With proper treatment, most people can lead long, productive lives. Most people with Parkinson’s dis- ease live about as long as people without the disease.FIVE: When you or your loved one’s ability to control movement has been impacted by Parkinson’s disease, Bron- son uses established and effective treat- ments to minimize symptoms. We also go above and beyond the traditional byresearching and implementing new and innovative solutions.Bronson offers a wide range of treat- ments and services for Parkinson’s dis- ease patients, including:• Care, support and education –work with a comprehensive team of specialists who will help with your muscles, nerves and other symptoms, explain the disease process as wellas how to access and use the bestresources.• Rehabilitation services – offeredthroughout Calhoun, Kalamazoo, and Van Buren counties, Bronson’s staff has special training and/or certifica- tion to treat Parkinson’s disease; this includes physical therapy, occupa- tional therapy, speech therapy, and speech-language pathology.• Neurosurgery – surgery is some- times needed to help control the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.• Parkinson’s support group – meet with other patients and caregivers experiencing the disease firsthand.Members of Bronson’s Parkinson’s team have completed the National Parkinson Foundation’s Allied Team Training for Parkinson’sTM program to understand all aspects of your disease. Our team is also certified in specialized exercise treatment programs for people with Parkinson’s disease: LSVT LOUD (speech therapy) and LSVT BIG (physi- cal/occupational therapy).SIX: In southwest Michigan, more people prefer Bronson to care for their brain. Bronson’s offices are connected with an electronic health record, so your care is easily coordinated among all of your doctors. And, you can partner with your providers through Bronson My- Chart – it helps you quickly request ap- pointments, talk with your doctor, order prescription refills, and view test results.If you or a family member has a trem- or, slow movements, or a shuffling walk, schedule an appointment with your doc- tor. He or she will help you decide if you should see a neurodegenerative disease expert at Bronson Neuroscience Cen- ter. For more information about Parkin- son’s disease, visit neurology or call (269) 341-7500.If you or a family member has a tremor, slow movements, or a shuffling walk, schedule an appointment with your doctor.

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