What are the motor symptoms?

Tremor - this tends to be present at rest and can involve hands, arms, legs, jaw and head. It is often called a pill-rolling tremor. It doesn’t usually occur while involved in a task such as using a knife and fork. It tends to be worsened by anxiety or high emotions.

Rigidity - this can affect both the arms and legs. This can cause muscle aches and pains. Loss of dexterity and fine hand movements can lead to a deterioration of hand writing whereby it becomes progressively smaller and less legible.

Micrographia (poor handwriting) - This commonly occurs in Parkinson disease. It manifests as poor hand writing that becomes very small and illegible.

Bradykinesia (slowness of movement) - Over time it may become difficult to initiate and to complete movement. This can make simple tasks such as getting dressed in the morning a lot more difficult and time-consuming.

Postural instability - There can be impairment of “righting” reflexes. This postural instability makes patients with Parkinson disease more likely to fall over.

Speech - Speech can also be affected by Parkinson disease. The speech tends to become low in tone.

Walking (or gait) - Someone with Parkinson disease has a characteristic walking pattern. The steps are short and take the appearance of shuffling. The shoulders have a stooped posture and there tends to be reduced swinging of the arms as the patient walks. When the patient turns around it is with many small steps (this is referred to as ‘clock face turning’).