About Young Onset Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson’s is a complex condition that can affect people of any age, not just the elderly. Young onset Parkinson’s (YOPD) is a term used to describe individuals diagnosed with Parkinson’s before the age of 50.

It’s difficult to obtain accurate numbers due to misdiagnosis or lack of diagnosis, but it is estimated that YOPD makes up around 5-10% of all Parkinson’s cases, suggesting that approximately 14,500 people in the UK are living with YOPD.

Unique People, Unique Challenges

YOPDers are diagnosed at a stage in their life where they have greater demands than those whose onset is later. They are often in the middle of building a career, a family and financial security – which can make the impact far larger than those whose onset is later. YOPDers often experience significantly different symptoms (such as frozen shoulder, clawing of toes, depression and insomnia), disease progression and are more likely to have a genetic predisposition to the condition.
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First steps to understanding YOPD

Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease (YOPD) refers to the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease in individuals under the age of 50. It shares many of the same symptoms as Parkinson’s disease, but it often progresses more slowly and may have different treatment considerations.

The symptoms of YOPD are similar to those of Parkinson’s disease and may include tremors, stiffness, slowness of movement, balance problems, and changes in speech. However, YOPD may also present with non-motor symptoms such as depression, anxiety, and cognitive changes.

Diagnosing YOPD involves a thorough medical history review, physical examination, and assessment of symptoms. Additional tests such as brain imaging and blood tests may be done to rule out other conditions. A neurologist specialising in movement disorders is typically involved in the diagnosis.

While there is a genetic component to Parkinson’s disease, the majority of YOPD cases are not directly inherited. However, having a family member with Parkinson’s disease may increase the risk of developing YOPD. Genetic counseling can provide more information on individual risk factors.

Treatment for YOPD focuses on managing symptoms and improving quality of life. This may include medications to control movement symptoms, physical therapy to improve mobility and strength, speech therapy for speech and swallowing difficulties, and counseling or support groups for emotional well-being.

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