What is Parkinson's Disease?

Dr. Dean Johnston, MD, MHSc, FRCPC, Neurologist, discusses What is Parkinson's Disease?.

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Dr. Dean Johnston, MD, MHSc, FRCPC, Neurologist, discusses What is Parkinson's Disease?.
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Featuring Dr. Dean Johnston, MD, MHSc, FRCPC, Neurologist

Duration: 2 minutes, 2 seconds

Parkinson’s is a chronic brain disease that’s caused by degeneration of neurons that produce a specific neurotransmitter.

The neurotransmitter is known as dopamine, and dopamine is important for the regulation of movement. Lack of dopamine in the brain results in characteristic symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, and there are four main symptoms.

Those include slowing of movement, or as physicians would call it, bradykinesia, tremor – and this is typically a tremor of the hand at rest – postural instability or imbalance, and rigidity or stiffness of the limbs.
Parkinson’s typically affects patients over the age of 60, although it can affect younger patients. It’s typically slowly progressive. It’s not a fatal disease. And unfortunately, there’s no known cure.
However, we have a number of very effective treatments to reduce the symptoms of Parkinson’s. Such individuals who suffer from Parkinson’s disease can live fulfilling, productive lives. The diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease is usually made by a neurologist, based on a history and physical examination.

Unfortunately, there are no specific diagnostic tests that will confirm the diagnosis of Parkinson’s, and therefore, it’s what is termed a clinical diagnosis. If an individual presents with characteristic findings and features of Parkinson’s disease, and as well responds to dopaminergic medication or replacement of dopamine, that’s usually enough to confirm the diagnosis.

Parkinson’s will typically progress slowly over many years, and can be treated with adjusting dosages of medications. It often takes many years before patients are severely or significantly disabled from Parkinson’s disease.

If you think you have signs of Parkinson’s disease, such as tremor or slowness, or if you have questions about Parkinson’s disease, you can discuss it with your family doctor.

Presenter: Dr. Dean Johnston, Neurologist, Vancouver, BC

Local Practitioners: Neurologist

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.