The diagnosis of Young-Onset Parkinsonís disease is the same as
or typical, Parkinsonís disease except for the age of the
patient. The average age of PD diagnosis is around 62. When an
individual is diagnosed with PD before the age of 50, the
disorder is called Young-Onset Parkinsonís disease. Connect with
people affected by Young-Onset Parkinson's by joining NPF's
Young-Onset Forum or attending a
Young-Onset Parkinson's Conference.
What are the common symptoms of Young-Onset PD?
There are some symptoms that are more common in Young-Onset
PD patients. The available evidence suggests that PD patients
with a younger age at onset have:
- A slower disease progression
- An increased rate of
(sustained abnormal postures, such as turning in or arching of
the foot and toes) at onset and during treatment
- A lower rate of
- An increased rate of dyskinesias in response to L-DOPA
As is the case with older-onset Parkinsonís disease, the speed
and severity of the progression of Young-Onset Parkinsonís
disease can vary greatly among individuals.
Does genetics play a part in Young-Onset PD?
YES. There are genes that have now been implicated in the
cause of a subtype of Young-Onset Parkinsonís disease known as
gene or Parkin 9 gene. Up to 50% of Young-Onset
Parkinsonís patients may have a gene associated as a potential
Research continues to be done to understand the role of genes
and environment as potential causes in PD. Theories suggest that
genes may play a larger role in young onset and environment may
be more significant in idiopathic, or typical, PD. Understanding
the roles of environment and genes will ultimately allow us to
identify the multiple causes of PD.
Is there such as thing as Juvenile Parkinsonism?
In rare instances, Parkinsonís-like symptoms can appear in
children and teenagers. This form of the disorder, called
"Juvenile ParkinsonismĒ, is viewed as a distinct disorder, which
often is genetically determined. Juvenile Parkinsonism usually
has a different course from typical later-life Parkinsonís
Approximately 10% of the 1 million people with the disease
are thought to be below the age of 40.3. Since Parkinsonís
disease is still often overlooked as a diagnosis in younger
patients, it is thought that the number of cases occurring in
individuals below the age of 40 may actually be much higher than
the estimated 10% of the population with the disease.
Is medication treatment different for Young-Onset PD?
The medical management of the Young-Onset Parkinsonís disease
patient requires an understanding of the significantly greater
tendency of this group to develop:
- Dyskinesias or involuntary movements (most commonly
- Motor fluctuations when taking levodopa
- When attempting to treat symptoms in the young Parkinsonís
disease patient it is important to use levodopa-sparing
strategies. These strategies include:
- The use of
anticholinergics or amantadine
- As well as substantial use of the
agonists for more potent, symptomatic treatment
- Often these drugs are used in combination
- As the patient, it is in your best interest to seek a
physician who has an understanding of the unique treatment of
Young-Onset PD. Such a doctor will be able to help you
maximize your quality of life.