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What is Parkinson's disease?

Overview

What is Parkinsonís disease?

Parkinsonís disease is a disorder of the Central Nervous System that affects the way the brain controls the bodyís movement. Dopamine is a chemical messenger inside your brain that transmits signals between nerve cells from different parts of the brain. In individuals with Parkinsonís disease, the brain cells that create dopamine are not functioning, causing a lack of dopamine in the brain, thereby causing trouble with movement. It is unclear why the brain cells which create dopamine stop working, but by the time Parkinsonís disease symptoms appear, around 80% of these brain cells are no longer functioning.

Parkinsonís disease is progressive, which means it gets worse over time, usually slowly. While researchers currently do not know what causes Parkinsonís disease, the mission of The Parkinson's Institute is to: Enhance the Care, Find the Cause and Promote the Cure.

Whom does Parkinsonís disease affect?

Parkinsonís disease affects approximately 1.5 million in the United States alone, men slightly more than women. While it usually affects those over 60 years old, it can develop at any age. In fact, about 15% of patients with Parkinsonís disease are diagnosed before the age of 40.

How is Parkinsonís Disease diagnosed?

At this time, there is not a lab test to determine if an individual has Parkinsonís disease. Instead, tests may be performed to rule out other possible causes of symptoms. In addition, a diagnosis of Parkinsonís disease is usually made after a neurologist determines that two of the three main symptoms (tremor, rigidity and bradykinesia) are present. How well medications for Parkinsonís disease work for treating an individualís symptoms may also help confirm the diagnosis. Because there are other diseases similar to Parkinsonís disease, a neurologist may change the diagnosis as the disease progresses.

How is Parkinsonís Disease treated?

A variety of medications and therapies that help control Parkinsonís symptoms are currently available. Because each patient is affected differently by the disease, treatments need to be catered to each individualís needs. In addition, a healthy lifestyle including a healthy diet, exercise, rest and relaxation is important to successfully manage the condition. Researchers are also actively working on new approaches to slowing disease progression, and ultimately finding a cure.

At The Parkinsonís Institute Movement Disorder Clinic, we boast five world-renowned neurologists, as well as a Physical Therapist, Speech Therapist, and Social Worker, all of whom have specialized training in Movement Disorders Ė and all under one roof! If you would like to be seen by one of our movement disorder specialists, please review the New Patient Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and then email clinic@thepi.org or call 408-734-2800 to speak to the New Patient Coordinator.

While we do not perform Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) surgery on-site, we do refer appropriate patients to Stanford University and the University of California at San Francisco, as well as provide device programming once our patients undergo the surgery.

675 Almanor Avenue | Sunnyvale, CA 94085
408.734.2800 main | 408.734.8455 fax (Main) | 408.734.9208 fax (Clinic Secure)