Parkinson’s Disease is a movement disorder mostly characterized by hand tremors.  People who suffer from this condition will also have balance problems, an expressionless face, and poor posture.  The modern medical community focuses on the production of dopamine to help reduce the tremors. However, there is a condition called Tardive Dyskinesia that results from taking Parkinson’s medication.  This Tardive Dyskinesia may cause a facial tremor in the mouth or lips that are a lot worse than the hand tremor and a lot harder to fix. In my opinion, it is best to prevent Parkinson’s Disease, rather than wait until you get it and then have to take medication which has side effects that may be worse than the condition. Always remember “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

There are early signs that help doctors understand how the patient is functioning and if they would be at risk for Parkinson’s Disease later on in life. The first early correlation seen during childhood development is toe walking.  Instead of having the proper gait and heel lift, some children walk where their back heels do not always touch the ground. Interestingly, another early sign of Parkinson’s is shoulder pain. Now this does not mean that if you have shoulder pain you are developing Parkinson’s Disease.  There are many other things that need to be looked at before we even start thinking you are at risk. For example, we also have to look at the gait and see how the arm swings. Parkinson’s is characterized by a lack of arm swing on one side of your body as you walk. 

Neuroscience studies have also shown that if you have lost consciousness due to a head trauma like a concussion or traumatic brain injury, and were unconscious for more than five minutes, this greatly increases your chances of getting Parkinson’s Disease in the future. Other important scientific journals show that lack of smell can also be an early sign.  The research has shown the best test to determine smell is the peanut butter test. An abnormal peanut butter test can occur 30 to 40 years before a tremor even develops.  

Researchers have also found that constipation usually occurs in Parkinson’s patients. In addition to constipation, other important signs that have been linked to Parkinson’s Disease are  decreased facial expressions, decreased blinking rate, and increased drooling. When we put this all together, it may be significant.

For example, if there is a person who was a toe walker as a child, has shoulder pain, constipation, poor smell, drools, has less facial expression, a past history of concussion, and doesn’t swing one arm while walking, we should be very concerned and start working on the brain immediately.  One or two of these symptoms may not require intervention. Simply get your brain evaluated and make sure you do the right things to keep yourself healthy. Even if you already have tremors, it does not mean you cannot get better. To enhance your quality of life, one of the first things we do is improve balance to help you walk better and prevent falls. This will reduce depression and help you sleep better as well. Your brain can change through a process called neuroplasticity which may help prevent and reduce symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease.