For Patients

Parkinson’s disease is a chronic, progressive neurological disorder, resulting from the loss of neurons in a specific area of the brain involved in motor function. There is currently no diagnostic test or cure for the disease. Medications can alleviate symploms and enhance quality of life, while some patients may benefit from surgical intervention.

The diagnostic criteria for Parkinson's is based on 4 primary motor symptoms:

1) Tremor – trembling of hands, arms, legs, jaw, and face
2) Rigidity – stiffness of limbs and trunk
3) Bradykinesia – slowness in starting and executing movements
4) Postural instability – difficulty with balance and coordination

Some patients may exhibit some of these symptoms to a greater extent than others. Also, the rate at which the disease progresses (worsening of symptoms) can vary from patient to patient.

Although Parkinson's disease is primarily categorized as a movement disorder, we know that there are a number of other, non-motor symptoms that occur prior to, or concurrent with the progression of the motor symptoms. These symptoms affect patients, their families, and their quality of life negatively, and are the focus of many of our studies. Non-motor symptoms associated with Parkinson's include: Depression, anxiety and/or other changes in mood
Difficulties with swallowing, chewing, speech
Digestion and urinary tract problems, such as constipation or incontinence
Changes in automatic body functions, such as blood pressure, sweating
Difficulty with sleep
Cognitive changes Olfactory changes (sense of smell)