HAGERSTOWN, Md. (WDVM) — The exact cause of Parkinson’s disease is unknown to this day.
Neurospecialists believe there are contributing factors and symptoms.
“You don’t realize how difficult some tasks are in your life until you can’t do it,” said Judy Fiery, who has been living with Parkinson’s for years.
Scientists believe Parkinson’s disease can be attributed to genetic mutations, environmental factors and more. While causes are not agreed upon, neurologists say there are risk factors.
Risk factors include age, genetic makeup, gender and exposure to environmental triggers, such as toxins.
“Average age is 60 when you’re diagnosed, though younger people can get it,” said Art Guyer, president of Hagerstown Parkinson’s Support Group. “Mostly men have it, more than women. Caucasians get it more than Asians and African Americans.”
When dopamine levels decrease, neurospecialists say abnormal brain activity takes place. Various causes can create disease symptoms that are different for everyone.
Researchers have identified specific genetic mutations that can cause this disease, and family members pass it down to their descendants. However, they said they are uncommon.
“It’s the kind of thing where one family may have three or four people in it that have Parkinson’s,” Guyer said. “Yes, you can say that’s genetic, but there could be people in that group that will not have it, so it’s hard to pin it down. That’s one of the problems.”
People living with the disease say they wish they knew the causes, and that they’ll never forget the moment they started seeing symptoms. However, they all have hopes that one day, researchers will discover the specific causes of the disease.
The group featured in this report is the Hagerstown’s Parkinson’s Support Group, which meets once a month at Western Sizzlin’ Steakhouse in Hagerstown.