Stages of Parkinson’s Disease

Classifying different stages of Parkinson’s disease is essential for monitoring the progression of the condition as well as identifying any headway made with certain treatment options. There are generally five stages of Parkinson’s disease and due to the slow progression of Parkinson’s, it may be difficult at times to clearly categorize individual cases into specific stages. The intensity of symptoms of Parkinson’s disease may vary, sometimes even on a daily basis, and certain cases may even skip some of the early stages of Parkinson’s disease.

Stage 1 of Parkinson’s Disease (Mild)

  • Symptoms are mild and may only affect one side.
  • Daily functioning is not impaired although tremors create difficulty.
  • Slightly evident changes in balance, posture, movement and facial expression.

Stage 2 of Parkinson’s Disease (Moderate)

  • Symptoms are bilateral – affecting both sides.
  • Mild difficulty in movement – walking, balance and posture.
  • Impairment in completing daily physical activities.

Stage 3 of Parkinson’s Disease (Difficult)

  • Difficulty in maintaining balance and posture.
  • Impairment of walking or standing although sufferer is usually able to do so independently.
  • Physical movements are noticeably slow.

Stage 4 of Parkinson’s Disease (Severe)

  • Unable to maintain balance or posture.
  • Instability when walking or standing and requires assistance.
  • Tremors usually reduce in this stage although independent completion of daily physical tasks is usually not possible.

Stage 5 of Parkinson’s Disease (Advanced)

  • Almost complete inability to function independently.
  • Walking or standing usually not possible.
  • Constant attention and nursing care required.
  • Confusion, dementia and other mental disturbances may occur in some cases.

Differentiating stages of Parkinson’s varies among cases, with certain individuals showing signs of two stages simultaneously. Therefore the guideline is intended to outline and identify the progression of the disease in accordance with level of functioning rather than the onset of symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. In certain cases, a Parkinson’s sufferer may skip the first two stages especially if the condition was not being monitored closely. However the slow progression of Parkinson’s disease means that the shift to the latter stages does not occur overnight and may be delayed with effective treatment.

Dexterity and coordination are the primary factors for daily functioning in the life of a Parkinson’s sufferer. Changes in either factor may affect individual Parkinson’s sufferers to varying degrees with some coping better than others. However with time, the level of dexterity and coordination is sufficiently impaired to render Parkinson’s disease sufferers incapable of taking care of themselves.

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