Wake Forest Baptist doctors talk about Parkinson’s disease

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Dr. Ihtsham Haq knows the signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

"Usually it will be a little bit of stiffness or slowness,” said Haq, a neurologist with Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. “Your foot will drag or you'll feel like you've got a catch in your shoulder. It won't go away and gradually, it'll get a little bit worse."

It’s a disease Haq says that can affect anyone.

"I have a number of patients who are in their 30s and 40s,” he said. “And, I have a lot of patients in their 80s and some in their 90s."

Civil Rights leader and activist Reverend Jesse Jackson announced his own battle with Parkinson's disease on Friday.

He released a statement that says he finds it “ ...difficult to perform routine tasks and getting around is more of a challenge."

The statement goes on to say "..I could no longer ignore the symptoms."

Other celebrities like actor Michael J. Fox and the late boxer and activist Muhammad Ali were also diagnosed with the disease.

"You've got a thing building up inside your nerve cells that keeps them from acting the way they should," Haq said.

Haq describes Parkinson's disease as a brain condition that affects the nervous system, causing slowness and stiffness on one side of the body.

"It's just hard to move," he said.

While there's no cure, he says it's symptoms can be slowed down.

"There's a lot we can do to make sure that living with it is pretty normal,” he said.

Haq says exercise, medication, and deep brain stimulation has helped most of his clients live full and busy lives.

"Many of my patients remain highly active through their 80s,” he said.

He hopes Jackson's announcement will continue to help raise awareness and let others know they can fight it too.

"People may look at the Reverend Jackson and say 'You know, he's got this disease. He's doing something about it. I guess I can too,’" Haq said.

Experts say men are more likely to have Parkinson's disease than women.

While young people can be diagnosed, it mainly affects people over the age of 50.