More than half a million Americans suffer from Parkinson’s disease, a brain disorder that leads to tremor and difficulty with walking, movement, and coordination. Although not a normal part of aging, Parkinson’s occurs most often among people 60 and older, and the risk increases with age. Older adults now can visit the NIHSeniorHealth Web site to learn more about Parkinson’s disease at www.nihseniorhealth.gov/parkinsonsdisease/toc.html. The Web site from the National Institutes of Health is geared toward older adults and features clear language.
“Scientists are making great progress in understanding and treating Parkinson’s disease,” said Walter Koroshetz, M.D., deputy director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, which developed the content for the Parkinson’s disease topic on NIHSeniorHealth. “The new Parkinson’s information on NIHSeniorHealth is an excellent resource for older adults who want to learn more about the disease and the current treatment options.”
Parkinson’s disease was first described in 1817. It belongs to a group of conditions called movement disorders. The four main symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are tremor (trembling), rigidity (stiffness), bradykinesia (slowness of movement), and postural instability (impaired balance). Parkinson’s is caused by the loss of brain cells that produce dopamine, a chemical that helps coordinate and control muscle activity. Currently, there is no cure for the disease, but ongoing research provides new information about causes, symptoms and treatment options. In recent years, research has advanced to the point that slowing the progression of Parkinson’s disease and restoring lost function are considered realistic goals.
Information about Parkinson’s has become the latest addition to the roster of health topics offered on NIHSeniorHealth. A joint effort of the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the National Library of Medicine (NLM), the senior-friendly Web site features research-based, easily accessible information on a range of health issues of interest to older people. Topics include ways to exercise properly, safe use of medicines, and management of diseases such as stroke, diabetes, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Older Americans increasingly are turning to the Internet for health information. In fact, 68 percent of “wired” seniors surf for health and medical information when they go online. NIHSeniorHealth, which is based on the latest research on cognition and aging, features short, easily understood segments of information in a variety of formats, including large-print type sizes, open-captioned videos and even an audio version. Additional topics coming soon to the site include leukemia, complementary and alternative medicine, and dry eye. The site links to MedlinePlus, NLM’s premier site for more detailed consumer health information.
The NINDS is dedicated to research and education on the causes, treatment, and prevention of Parkinson’s disease and other neurological disorders.
The NIA leads the federal effort supporting and conducting research on aging and the health and well-being of older people.
The NLM, the world's largest library of the health sciences, creates and sponsors Web-based health information resources for the public and professionals.
All three are components of NIH—The Nation's Medical Research Agency— which is comprised of 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.