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  4. What kind of disease is Parkinson's disease?

Parkinson's DiseaseWhat kind of disease is Parkinson's disease?

Symptoms caused by a shortage of dopamine in the brain

Characteristic symptoms such as those listed below appear in Parkinson's disease due to a shortage in the brain of a substance called dopamine. These are called the four cardinal symptoms of Parkinson's disease.

  • 1. Shaking of the hands and legs
  • 2. Muscle stiffness
  • 3. Slow movement
  • 4. Loss of balance

Parkinson's becomes more common with increasing age

Parkinson's disease is by no means rare; today there are approximately 150,000 patients in Japan. Symptoms usually appear around the age of 50, with the number of patients increasing as people get older. Celebrities with Parkinson's disease include the former world boxing champion Mohammed Ali, Hollywood star Michael J. Fox, Japanese TV personality Rokusuke Ei, and the late artist Taro Okamoto.
Parkinson's disease can also appear before age 40, in which case it is called young-onset Parkinson's disease.

Symptoms similar to those of Parkinson's disease

Some people may experience symptoms that closely resemble those of Parkinson's disease. These may be caused by other brain diseases that exhibit Parkinson's-like symptoms or as a side effect of medication. The termed used to describe such symptoms is “parkinsonism.”

Parkinson's disease patients are eligible for a public subsidy in Japan

The Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) includes Parkinson's disease In the Specified Disease Treatment Research Program, which makes Parkinson's patients eligible for medical care subsid from the national and prefectural governments. There have been big advances in the treatment of the disease, and it is now possible for patients to lead a normal life for a long time. The public subsidy enables patients to undergo long-term treatment without worry.

Websites related to Parkinson's disease

Provides explanations of diseases recognized as intractable diseases, overviews of various programs, consultation options, contact information, and other information with the support of the MHLW. (Japanese only)

Provides a variety of information as a nationwide organization of prefectural patient associations.