The cardinal motor symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease are listed below:
- Slowness of movement (also known as Bradykinesia): This is typically an early sign and affects almost all people living with PD. It can be disabling because it interferes with normal daily activities. Bradykinesia includes difficulties with voluntary movement planning and execution. It is established by a decrease in speed, amplitude, dexterity and fluidity of movements. This includes decreased arm swing, changes in hand writing or micrographia, and shuffling gait. Other symptoms may include loss of facial expression, soft speech and difficulty swallowing.
- Tremor: The tremor or involuntary shaking in PD can be seen in the hands, arms, legs, jaw or face. Typically, it starts on one side of the body, and it is visible when the affected body part is at rest or not in motion. Tremors that are present only with movement of the limb are usually due to other conditions. While it is present in many patients, approximately 25% of people living with PD never develop a tremor.
- Rigidity: Rigidity or muscle stiffness may impair the full range of limb motion and interfere with normal activities. It may cause pain and a stooped posture.
- Postural instability: The loss of balance reflexes known as postural instability usually begins later in the course of the disease. It can lead to falls and contributes greatly to the disability associated with PD.
PD can also cause a variety of other symptoms outside the realm of the motor system, known collectively as non-motor symptoms. The non-motor symptoms include diminished sense of smell, memory loss, sleep disturbances, depression, constipation, urinary frequency/urgency and erectile dysfunction among others.
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