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What Is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative neurological disease that affects movement, coordination, and balance. Named for James Parkinson, the English doctor who identified it in 1817, Parkinson’s disease afflicts nearly 10 million people worldwide. Although most people respond well to treatment, Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder that worsens over time.
Parkinson’s disease destroys nerve cells, or neurons, in a part of the brain stem known as the substantia nigra. It’s a crescent-shaped hub in the midbrain that produces an important type of chemical called a neurotransmitter. Neurotransmitters help bridge gaps between the nerve cells, allowing them to communicate with one another and pass nerve signals from the brain to the rest of the body.
Dopamine is a key neurotransmitter that helps with muscle movement, mood, and motivation. Lack of dopamine is the primary cause of Parkinson’s motor symptoms. Dopamine normally helps control muscle coordination, balance, and walking.
Parkinson’s disease progresses slowly, often starting with tremors (shaking) on one side of the body, slowed movement, rigid muscles, halting gait, balance problems, speech or writing changes, and difficulty smiling or blinking.
Gregory Michael Pontone, MD, M.H.S.
After completing a medicine internship and residency training in psychiatry at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Pontone completed a two-year fellowship in geriatric…Read More…
“Anxiety disorders are common in Parkinson’s disease (PD), but are not well character…
– Gregory Michael Pontone, MD, M.H.S.
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