Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disease that affects motor skills. There are five stages of Parkinson’s disease, but although the disease is not fatal, by the time stage 5 has been reached the patient will require 24/7 nursing care and will be completely unable to take care of themselves.
Patients diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease can be afflicted with a wide range of symptoms. In the early stages, the most characteristic symptom of Parkinsons disease is trembling of limbs, particularly when the person is resting, but as the degenerative effects of the disease take hold, the patient will begin to have problems with almost all bodily functions, from speaking to swallowing, which can cause associated emotional problems such as depression and mood swings.
It is impossible to predict how quickly and how severely the disease will affect a patient as we are all different. Some people will experience most of the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease relatively fast, whereas others may only be affected by some of the secondary symptoms over a long period of time.
Stages of Parkinson’s disease
Doctors use several criteria to assess the severity of symptoms related to Parkinson’s disease. The Hoehn and Yahr scale divides Parkinson’s disease into five stages according to the severity of the symptoms, but to a certain extent, this has now been superseded by the Unified Parkinson’s disease rating scale based on more complex criteria, including behaviour, mood and motor skills. However, in practice, a combination of the two scales is used to measure how severe the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are and to assess the effectiveness of Parkinson’s disease treatments.
The progression from the early stages of Parkinson’s disease to the end stages of PD can take up to twenty years, but some patients skip stages and the advance of Parkinson’s disease is much quicker.
What are the stages of Parkinson’s disease?
Stage 1: during the early stages of Parkinson’s disease, symptoms are very mild, and although inconvenient to the patient, they do not disable him in any way. The stage 1 symptoms are often only on one side of the body and can appear as a tremor in one limb or a slight change to posture, facial expression, or movement.
Stage 2: the person’s posture and motor skills are more affected. Symptoms are now seen on both sides of the body and may be sufficiently bad to cause problems with normal daily activities, although not severe enough to disable the person in any great way.
Stage 3: movement has become sufficiently impaired to affect walking or standing and whole body movement will not be much slower. General body functions are much more affected and dysfunction is classed as moderately severe.
Stage 4: symptoms of the disease are severe, but the person is still able to walk, albeit in a limited fashion. Tremors in the limbs have lessened, but rigidity and bradykinesia will be apparent and the patient will no longer be able to take care of themselves without help.
Stage 5: by this stage of the disease, the patient will be a total invalid and confined to bed or a wheelchair, as they will be unable to take care of themselves without constant nursing supervision.