Parkinson’s disease is a serious degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that usually occurs in the over sixties, although it can sometimes affect younger people. The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are categorised into stages and the most commonly used scale devised by Hoehn and Yahr describes five different stages of Parkinson’s. What are the stages of Parkinson’s disease?
Like all degenerative diseases, Parkinson’s symptoms start off mild and have very little impact on normal life, before progressing through different levels of severity until all aspects of the patient’s life are affected and he or she is completely dependent on others for their day to day care.
A patient with Parkinson’s disease may progress through the different stages of the illness at different speeds. Some people will suffer a very slow decline of motor and cognitive function, but others may reach stage V of Parkinson’s disease within a relatively short space of time. It is also not that unusual to skip stages of the disease and for the symptoms to worsen fairly rapidly.
Parkinson’s disease affects different people in different ways and no two patients will have the same experience. The main symptoms of the disease are tremors and shaking in resting limbs and this symptom is seen in around 70% of patients. Slowness of movement and rigidity of the limbs is another common feature of Parkinson’s disease.
What are the stages of Parkinson’s disease?
Stage I – symptoms of early stage Parkinson’s disease are very mild and whilst they might cause some inconvenience, they cannot be described as disabling in any way. The disease tends to affect motor skills in the early stages and the patient might experience mild tremors in one limb, changes in posture and facial expression. Symptoms are usually only apparent down one side of the body.
Stage II – symptoms of the disease are now apparent down both sides of the body. At this stage, symptoms of Parkinson’s are still fairly mild and the patient is still able to continue life as normal, although gait and posture will be affected to a degree and tremors will be noticeable.
Stage III – the disease is now at the moderate stage and normal everyday tasks will start to be more severely affected. The patient’s motor skills will decline and physical movement will slow down. Walking and standing will become problematic.
Stage IV – by the time the patient has reached stage IV of Parkinson’s disease, their symptoms will be described as advanced. Normal life will be severely impaired and the patient will no longer be able to take care of themselves without significant assistance. Walking might still be possible, but movement will be limited. Rigidity and bradykinesia (slowness of movement) are apparent by stage IV of the disease and some people develop a mask-like expression, but the characteristic tremors of Parkinson’s start to lessen by this stage of the disease.
Stage V – once the patient reached stage V (referred to as the cachectic stage) of Parkinson’s disease, their body strength has significantly declined and they will be an invalid, unable to walk or even stand. They will require twenty-four hour nursing care