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Parkinson Disease

A progressive disorder of the nervous system marked by muscle tremors, muscle rigidity, decreased mobility, stooped posture, slow voluntary movements, and a mask-like facial expression.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Cancer Institute)

About Parkinson Disease

Parkinson's disease is a brain disorder that leads to shaking, stiffness, and difficulty with walking, balance, and coordination. It affects about half a million people in the United States although the numbers may be much higher. The average age of onset is 60 years, and the risk of developing Parkinson's goes up with age.

Parkinson's disease was first described in 1817 by James Parkinson, a British doctor who published a paper on what he called "the shaking palsy." In this paper, he described the major symptoms of the disease that would later bear his name.

Parkinson's disease belongs to a group of neurological conditions called movement disorders. The four main symptoms of Parkinson's are:

Parkinson's symptoms usually begin gradually and get worse over time. As the symptoms become more severe, people with the disorder may have difficulty walking, talking, or completing other simple tasks...Read more about Parkinson Disease NIH - National Institute on Aging

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Acupuncture treatment for Parkinson disease: a systematic review

Bibliographic details: Yang LH, Du YH, Xiong J, Liu JL, Wang YN, Li Y, Li LN.  Acupuncture treatment for Parkinson disease: a systematic review. Chinese Journal of Evidence-Based Medicine 2010; 10(6): 711-717

What is the risk of sham surgery in Parkinson disease clinical trials: a review of published reports

Placebo, or sham surgery, as a control condition in surgical clinical trials in Parkinson disease (PD) remains controversial. The authors reviewed the adverse effects reported in double blind, placebo surgery controlled trials for PD. Placebo surgeries were generally safe and well tolerated but the number of subjects receiving the procedure was small. Harm occurred more frequently in subjects randomized to the experimental intervention.

Effects of whole-body vibration on sensorimotor performance in people with Parkinson disease: a systematic review

BACKGROUND: Earlier studies show that whole-body vibration (WBV) has beneficial effects on neuromuscular performance in older adults and may be a viable treatment option for people with Parkinson disease (PD).

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Summaries for consumers

Drugs for motor complications in people with Parkinson´s disease who are already taking levodopa

One of the complications of long‐term treatment of Parkinson's disease (PD) with levodopa is the development of motor complications e.g. dyskinesia; a jerky, dance‐like movement of the body. Generally clinicians add on drugs (to the levodopa regimen) from one of the other three classes of anti‐Parkinsonian treatments available (e.g. dopamine agonists, catechol‐O‐methyl transferase inhibitors (COMTIs) or monoamine oxidase type B inhibitors (MAOBIs)). However, despite trials having shown that these drugs are beneficial compared to placebo, it remains unclear as to the best way to treat patients experiencing motor complications and, in particular, whether one class of drug may be more effective than another.

Treadmill training for people with Parkinson's disease

The role of treadmill training for people with Parkinson's disease in improving gait parameters is unclear. Gait hypokinesia is typically one of the primary movement disorders associated with Parkinson's disease. It is an important determinant of disability and quality of life for people with mild to moderate Parkinson?s disease. Treadmill training uses specialised machines to facilitate gait rehabilitation. This review identified eight trials including 203 participants which evaluated this type of therapy. Treadmill training did improve gait speed, stride length and walking distance; cadence did not improve. Acceptability of treadmill training for study participants was good and adverse events were rare.

Anticholinergic drugs can improve movement symptoms of Parkinson's disease, but with adverse mental effects, and there is not enough evidence to compare the different drugs.

Anticholinergics were the first drugs available for Parkinson´s disease and they are still widely used. They are believed to work by counteracting an imbalance which exists in Parkinson´s disease between two chemicals in the brain which transmit messages between nerve cells. However, anticholinergic drugs have been associated with unfavourable side effects. They are used alone, or with other anti‐Parkinson's drugs. The review of trials found that anticholinergics can improve movement problems in people with Parkinson's disease, but also cause adverse mental effects (such as confusion, memory problems, restlessness and hallucinations). There is not enough evidence to compare the different anticholinergic drugs.

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Terms to know

Bradykinesia
Slow movement.
Dyskinesia
Impairment of voluntary muscle control, characterized by spasmodic or repetitive motions or lack of coordination.
Involuntary
An action that is not made by choice. In the body, involuntary actions (such as blushing) occur automatically, and cannot be controlled by choice.
Movement Disorders
Neurological conditions resulting in abnormal voluntary or involuntary movement, which may impact the speed, fluency, quality and ease of movement.
Neurological
Having to do with nerves or the nervous system.
Neurologist
A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the nervous system.
Tremor
Unintentional trembling or shaking of one or more body parts.

More about Parkinson Disease

Photo of an adult

Also called: Parkinson's disease, Parkinson's, Parkinsonism, PD

See Also: Brain, Central Nervous System

Other terms to know: See all 7
Bradykinesia, Dyskinesia, Involuntary

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How the Nervous System Works

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