What is Parkinson’s disease?

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Parkinson’s disease is a nervous system disorder that develops over time, affecting movement and gradually takes away motor abilities. People with Parkinson’s can have varied symptoms including tremors, difficulty walking, rigid limbs and a lack of balance. Sometimes, patients also lose facial expressiveness and struggle with clear speech.

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The deterioration of nerve cells in dopamine-producing areas of the brain causes Parkinson’s disease. When the brain lacks enough dopamine, Parkinson’s symptoms develop.

The only known risk factor for Parkinson's disease is advancing age. Most Parkinson's cases occur in individuals over the age of 50, but it can also appear at younger ages.

The Program

There is currently no cure for Parkinson’s disease, but medications can help improve symptoms. Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) is an FDA-approved treatment to correct abnormal electrical activity in the brain that causes neurological movement disorders, including Parkinson's disease. In some rare cases, doctors may also recommend surgery to help improve symptoms.

In order to determine the appropriate diagnosis, a doctor will complete a thorough medical history and neurological exam. Blood tests and a CT scan may be used to rule out other conditions with similar symptoms.