While it is largely regarded as a condition afflicting those above the age of 60, Parkinson's disease affects younger adults too.
About one in eight patients have symptoms before the age of 50 and, one in 20, before they reach 40, said Associate Professor Prakash Kumar Manharlal, a senior consultant in neurology at the National Neuroscience Institute (NNI).
Those in the under-50 age group are said to have young-onset Parkinson’s disease. They make up a fifth of the 4,000 Parkinson’s disease patients seen at NNI, where the youngest patient treated was in his early 20s.
When medications alone can no longer control symptoms or when complications from medications affect quality of life, patients may consider a surgical treatment known as deep brain stimulation, he said.
Electrodes are inserted into a targeted area of the brain and a small pacemaker-like device is surgically placed under the skin, beneath the collarbone. The device sends electrical signals to the part of the brain involved in motor function to decrease symptoms.