SHAKING PALSY (PARALYSIS AGITANS).—A chronic disease of the nervous system, which usually attacks only persons of an advanced age, particularly men, and without any demonstrable cause. The persons affected seem to have been very healthy previously, but it appears that mental and psychic over-exertions, vexations, and injuries may favour the occurrence of the disease.
The fully developed affection is characterised by a peculiar tremor, and a distinct attitude of the body, combined with a tendency to fall for ward (sec Fig. 367). The patients arc not able to turn about readily, and when walking they continue in a straight direction until they encoun ter an obstacle. By supporting themselves against this obstacle they place the body in a different direction, and then continue their walk. As the disease progresses it becomes difficult or impos sible for them to rise from a chair without assist ance, partly because they arc not able to use their hands by reason of the shaking, and partly because of stiffness and rigidity of the musculature of the entire body. The trembling of the hands
and forearms, sometimes also of the lower jaw and of the feet, is especially noticeable. The shaking of the hands is an early manifestation, and it usually begins with movements of the thumbs toward the index-fingers.
The disease progresses slowly for years, al though occasional improvements occur. Medical treatment, with natural or artificial warm baths, mild electric baths, moderate massage of the en tire body, and internal medicines, may give relief. One should beware of radical, so-called " regeneration cures," as these aggravate the disease.