What Is Parkinson's Disease
What do Michael J. Fox and Janet Reno have in common?† They have both shown
that people can be successful in high-powered, demanding positions despite having
Parkinson's disease, a progressive neurologic disorder.
There is no cure for Parkinson's disease . . .yet.† But doctors and researchers
are optimistic.† In the meantime, medical and surgical treatments can help control
symptoms such as severe movement difficulties.
Parkinson's disease is caused by brain cell death of an unknown cause in an
area called the substantia nigra.† These cells make dopamine, the chemical that
controls muscle movement.† The resulting symptoms include resting tremors, slow,
labored movement, muscle rigidity, and loss of balance and coordination.† Other
common symptoms include stooped posture, loss of facial expression, a "shuffling"
walk, depression, and impaired speech.
Most patients are over 65; only one in 20 patients with Parkinson's disease
develop it before age 45.† Combination drug therapy is generally effective for
about 10 years, after which surgery may be appropriate.
Created: 4/26/2001  - Donnica Moore, M.D.