Robin Williams' tragedy sheds light on Parkinson's disease

<div class="meta image-caption"><div class="origin-logo origin-image none"><span>none</span></div><span class="caption-text">Williams shortly before starring in "The World According to Garp" in 1982. (AP)</span></div>
As the world continues to mourn one of its most cherished actors and comedians, more details about Robin Williams' health continue to emerge in the wake of his death. Williams' wife Susan Schneider revealed that the actor was in the early stages of Parkinson's disease, a debilitating condition that afflicts more than one million across the globe, according to the National Parkinson's Foundation.

As Williams joins Muhammad Ali and Michael J. Fox as another famous face who has suffered from Parkinson's, there are many who still do not fully comprehend what the disease is and how it effects the human body. With data provided by the Mayo Clinic, here is what you need to know about Parkinson's disease.

What is Parkinson's disease?

Parkinson's disease is a disorder of the nervous system that progressively affects one's movement.

What are the symptoms of Parkinson's?

Tremors are often the most commonly associated sign with Parkinson's, but symptoms like not being able to swing one's arms or showing expression on one's face are common in early stages of the disease. Slowing and increased difficulty of movement, as well as rigid muscles and speech changes are common symptoms.

Is Parkinson's curable?

There is no cure for Parkinson's disease. There are many medications that can reduce the severity of Parkinson symptoms, but there is no cure to eliminate the disease outright.

What causes Parkinson's?

The particular cause of Parkinson's disease is unknown. Parkinson's symptoms are often associated with low levels of dopamine in the brain. Genes and environmental triggers, like exposure to certain toxins or environmental processes, may help cause the disease.

Who is at risk for Parkinson's disease?

Parkinson's disease afflicts 50,000-60,000 new people each year from a variety of backgrounds. But people who are above 60 years old, male, have a history of Parkinson's in the family, and are exposed to high levels of toxins are more at risk for the disease.

Where can I learn more information about Parkinson's disease?

Visit the National Parkinson Foundation for more information about the disease, how to speak with a trained professional about Parkinson's, and how to help the community suffering from the disease at large.

Check out the gallery above to see notable faces who've battled this debilitating disease.
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