What is Parkinson’s?
Parkinson's is a devastating neurodegenerative disease that typically occurs in middle to late age. The initiating event and progression of the disease is still unknown.
Parkinson's is characterised by:
- bradykinesia (slow movement); and
- postural instability.
There are also a range of non-motor deficits, including cognitive (thinking), depression, and the development of dementia that occur in a substantial proportion of patients with Parkinson's.
The motor and non-motor symptoms of Parkinson's are thought to primarily relate to a deficit of the neurotransmitter dopamine as a result of degeneration of a select but heterogenous population of neurons. The neurochemical pathways of several other neurotransmitter types (including norepinepherinergic, serotoninergic, and acetylcholinergic) are also disrupted as a result of neurodegeneration, and the various symptoms of Parkinson's are also thought to relate to the disturbance of these neurotramsmitters.
Parkinson's is the second most common neurological condition in Australia, after dementia.
It is estimated that 53,200 Australians suffered from the disease in 2005 and due to Australia's ageing population, this number is expected to increase to around 62,800 by 2010 and 98,500 by 2025 (Access Economics, 2007).
ECU’s Parkinson’s Research Centre, ParkC, takes a holistic research approach that focuses on optimising collaborative research and synergies between different research disciplines and Parkinson’s communities.
ParkC research projects are organised into these themes:
- development of neuro-protective/restorative treatment approaches;
- identification of Parkinson’s subtypes; and
- development and assessment of non-pharmacological treatment strategies to reduce the motor and non-motor symptoms of idiopathic Parkinson's.