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Parkinson's Disease

What is Parkinson's Disease?
Is there any treatment?
What is the prognosis?
What research is being done?

Related NINDS Publications

What is Parkinson's Disease?
Parkinson's disease belongs to a group of conditions called motor system disorders. Parkinson's and related disorders are the result of the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells. Dopamine is a chemical messenger responsible for transmitting signals within the brain. Parkinson's disease occurs when certain nerve cells, or neurons, die or become impaired. Normally, these neurons produce dopamine. Loss of dopamine causes the nerve cells to fire out of control, leaving patients unable to direct or control their movement in a normal manner. The four primary symptoms of Parkinson's are tremor or trembling in hands, arms, legs, jaw, and face; rigidity or stiffness of the limbs and trunk; bradykinesia, or slowness of movement; and postural instability or impaired balance and coordination. Patients may also have difficulty walking, talking, or completing other simple tasks. The disease is both chronic and progressive. Parkinson's is not usually inherited. Early symptoms are subtle and occur gradually.

Is there any treatment?
A variety of medications provide dramatic relief from the symptoms, but no drug can stop the progression of the disease. In some cases, surgery is an appropriate treatment. Some doctors recommend physical therapy or muscle-strengthening exercises.

What is the prognosis?
At present, there is no way to predict or prevent Parkinson's disease.

What research is being done?
The NINDS supports a broad range of studies aimed at discovering the cause(s) of Parkinson's disease, finding better treatments, and ultimately preventing and curing the disorder.


American Parkinson Disease Association

1250 Hylan Blvd.
Suite 4B
Staten Island NY 10305-1946
Tel: 718-981-8001 800-223-2732 888-400-2732 or 888-400-2732 Calif: 800-908-2732
Fax: 718-981-4399

National Parkinson Foundation

1501 N.W. 9th Avenue
Bob Hope Research Center
Miami FL 33136-1494
Tel: 305-547-6666 800-327-4545 Fla: 800-433-7022
Fax: 305-243-4403

Parkinson Alliance

211 College Road East
Princeton NJ 08540

Tel: 609-688-0870
Fax: 609-688-0875

Parkinson's Action Network (PAN)

840 3rd Street
Santa Rosa CA 95404
Tel: 800-850-4726 DC: 202-628-2079 Calif: 707-544-1994
Fax: 707-544-2363/202-737-4242

Parkinson's Disease Foundation (PDF)

710 W. 168th Street
New York NY 10032-9982
Tel: 212-923-4700 800-457-6676
Fax: 212-923-4778

Parkinson's Institute

1170 Morse Avenue
Sunnyvale CA 408-734-2800
Tel: 408-734-2800 800-786-2958

Parkinson's Resource Organization

73-700 El Paseo
Suite 2
Palm Desert CA 92260-4135
Tel: 760-773-5628 310-476-7030 877-775-4111
Fax: 760-773-9803

Parkinson's Support Groups of America

11376 Cherry Hill Road
Beltsville MD 20705
Tel: 301-937-1545

Young Parkinson's Support Network

142 Perkins Row
Topsfield MA 01983
Tel: 978-887-8544

Related NINDS Publications

  • Parkinson's Disease: Hope Through Research
  • An informational booklet on Parkinson's Disease.
  • La Enfermedad de Parkinson: Esperanza en la Investigacion
  • A Spanish-language public information booklet on Parkinson's disease/Informacion de la Enfermadad de Parkinson.
  • Parkinson's Disease Research Agenda
  • NINDS Parkinson's Disease Research Agenda, March 2000.
  • Parkinson's Disease Backgrounder
  • A backgrounder on Parkinson's disease.
  • September 1999 Parkinson's Testimony
  • NINDS Director's September 1999 Congressional testimony on NIH Parkinson's disease research.
  • Parkinson's Disease: A Research Planning Workshop
  • Myoclonus
  • Fact sheet about Myoclonus.
  • Tremor
  • Information sheet on Tremor.

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    Editor: Susan K. Boyer, RN
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