- PD is the second most common brain disorder after Alzheimer’s disease.
- The cells that produce dopamine, a brain chemical important to movement and mood, slowly die off.
- The decrease in dopamine causes both motor and non-motor symptoms.
- PD slowly progresses as more cells stop functioning.
- Tremor or rhythmic shaking of arms, legs, chin, or lip
- Slow, small, and stiff movement
- Shuffling gait
- Impaired balance and falls
- Soft or hoarse voice
- Late symptoms
- Autonomic abnormalities
- Read the website document Autonomic Abnormalities for more information.
- Sleep disorders
- Excessive sleep
- Sleep apnea
- Acting out dreams including screaming, kicking, and punching
- Advancing age with average onset in the 60’s
- 5-10% of people with PD have a family history
- Repeated head trauma
- REM behavior disorder
- A diagnosis is usually made by looking for the key motor symptoms and ruling out other conditions, such as:
- Multiple strokes
- Exposure to certain toxins
- Some psychiatric medications
- A DaTscan is a special brain scan that can help diagnose PD.
- Motor symptoms are treated with medications that mimic dopamine.
- Non-motor symptoms are treated in various ways.
- Exercise is essential for managing the motor symptoms and can slow the progression of PD.