Early & Young Onset of Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s Disease Young Onset Overview
- 10% of all people diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease are 50 years or younger.
- In young onset Parkinson’s the first symptom is often dystonia involuntary muscle contractions that may cause stiffness, twisting and repetitive motions in the limbs.
- Leg or foot dystonia is particularly common affecting about 50 percent of diagnosed young people.
Symptoms in Young Onset Parkinson’s
Many of the more common signs of Parkinson’s in the elderly are less common in young onset Parkinson’s disease including;
- Cognitive problems such as memory loss and dementia
- Loss of balance and coordination
Unique Challenges for Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease
Apart from the physical challenges, people with young onset Parkinson’s face unique issues related to family, career, finances and living long-term with a potentially disabling condition. Young persons with PD may ask the following questions:
- How will the disease affect my employment ?
- What steps should I take in regard to financial planning ?
- What will my family life be like now that I have PD?
- Should I tell my employer?
Talking with other people the same age, with the same condition, can be very helpful. Consider joining the young onset support group
Treatment of Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease
Treatment for young onset Parkinson’s is generally the same as for the elderly. The most commonly prescribed medicine is levodopa. This drug has a significant effect on symptoms and results can be seen within days. But in younger people the adverse side effects of the drug are rapid, far more so than in the elderly and can bring about involuntary movements (known as dyskinesias).
Young patients are better candidates for DBS (Deep Brain Stimulation) and other new surgical techniques and medicines because they are less likely to have other age-related diseases. Consult a movement disorder specialist to determine if you are a candidate for DBS.
Resources for Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease
Young Onset Support Group - Parkinson Association of the Rockies
The American Parkinson Disease Association’s National Young Onset Center
PDLife – iPhone App, Parkinson Association of the Rockies