Parkinson’s disease – a neurological disease that affects movement – is a disease for old people, right? That’s what many people used to think before actor Michael J. Fox revealed that he had been diagnosed with it at the age of 30, in 1991.
News that Fox had been diagnosed was stunning to many who had never considered that such a disease could strike young people. And yet, it does. And the latest to make the news is a 23-year-old rugby player from the United Kingdom.
According to this Mail Online article, Father becomes one of UK’s youngest Parkinson’s disease sufferers at 23, Shaun Slicker became the youngest person in the UK diagnosed with Parkinsons, but he had been experiencing symptoms of the disease since 2006.
The typical symptoms of Parkinsons include:
- tremor in the hands, arms, legs and/or face
- stiffness of the arms and legs
- bradykinesia (slow movements)
- difficulty maintaining balance or coordination
Because the symptoms can be so vague in the beginning, it’s easy not to consider a diagnosis of Parkinsons right away, particularly in young patients. In this case, Sean’s first noticeable symptoms was a tremor in his left leg. But, as he said in the article, that was easily attributed to something else. It was only as the other symptoms began to develop and become more pronounced (a limp and then tremors in the hand and arm) that he sought help. Unfortunately, it still took three years to be told he had Parkinson’s disease.
Sean currently takes daily injections of a medication called apomorphine, which seems to be helping with his symptoms.