Parkinson’s disease is a condition of the brain and central nervous system that progressively affects movement. Symptoms usually begin on one side of the body and become worse with time. Typical motor symptoms include tremors, muscle rigidity, slowness of movement (bradykinesia), and reduced posture and balance. Over time, people may experience difficulties in speaking, writing, or doing other fundamental movements such as smiling. Not everyone is affected the same way and the disease progresses faster in some than it does in others.

Rating scales

Your physician may use a rating scale to assess the progression of your condition. Typical rating scales are focused on motor symptoms. Newer scales include information on non-motor symptoms (e.g., sense of smell).

Hoehn and Yahr scale

This scale was first introduced in 1967. It focuses on movement symptoms and uses a scale of 1 to 5 (1 and 2 representing the early stages, and 4 and 5 are advanced stages of the disease).

United Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS)

This is a more comprehensive scale that takes into account other factors such as, patients’ abilities to carry out daily activities or mood and social interactions.

Parkinson’s Stages

Not everyone experiences the same symptoms, in the same order, or intensity level. However, there are common characteristics to each stage:

Stage one

This is the initial stage characterized by mild symptoms such as tremors on one side of the body. The symptoms at this stage usually do not affect daily activities. Changes in posture, walking, and facial expression may be noticed by close relatives and friends.

Stage two

Symptoms start to get worse in this stage with tremor, rigidity, and other movements affecting both sides of the body. Problems with walking and poor posture are noticeable. Daily activities become more difficult, but the person is still able to live alone.

Stage three

This is the mid-stage of the disease characterized by loss of balance and slowness of movement. Falls become more common during this stage. The person is still able to live alone, although the disease significantly affects daily activities such as dressing or eating.

Stage four

In this stage, symptoms are severe and very limiting. It is still possible for the patient to stand without assistance, but he or she is not able to live alone and needs help for daily activities.

Stage five

This is the most advanced and debilitating stage of the disease. Patients have great difficulty in walking or standing. They are not able to live alone and require a wheelchair to move around. Assistance is needed in all daily activities. Besides motor symptoms, the person may see, hear, or experience things that aren’t real (hallucinations), or believe that things that aren’t accurate (delusions).

Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.