APDA American Parkinson Disease Association
Information & Referral Center

Parkinson's Disease

First described in 1817 by English physician James Parkinson as a "shaking palsy," Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a progressive neurological disorder of the brain that results from a loss of cells that produce dopamine. Loss of this neurotransmitter causes neurons to fire out of control, leading to the symptoms of PD -- instability of posture or balance, gait difficulty, stiffness or rigidity of the arms, legs or neck, general slowness of movement and tremors or trembling. Other symptoms may include depression, mental confusion, difficulty writing and speech problems.

Parkinson’s Disease affects over 1.5 million people in the United States. Affecting both men and women equally, symptoms usually appear when a patients is older than 50. However, 10 to 20 percent of people with PD develop it before the age of 50. Young-onset PD affects persons under age 40. 

There is presently no cure for Parkinson’s Disease, but many drugs have been developed to help manage the symptoms of PD. Further, a surgical procedure, deep brain stimulation, has been approved for use in PD patients since 1997.

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