The first detailed description of Parkinson’s disease, published in 1817 by British physician James Parkinson, is a harrowing read. Based on his observation of six cases, Parkinson found that a patient starts by experiencing a slight sense of weakness and some bothersome trembling in one of their hands.
The condition slowly worsens to the point where tremors become more frequent. Simple actions such as walking and eating become challenging to the point where assistance is needed. After several years, the patient loses all voluntary muscle control and requires around-the-clock care.
It has been more than 200 years since Parkinson’s essay on the “shaking palsy,” as he called it. Yet, the disease now bearing his name still has no cure, and why some people get it and others don’t remains a mystery.