Parkinson’s Disease was first described by English physician Dr. James Parkinson in his work entitled An Essay on the Shaking Palsy (1817). In this short essay Parkinson wrote about "Involuntary tremolous motion, with lessened muscular power, in parts not in action and even when supported; with a propensity to bend the trunk forwards, and to pass from a walking to a running pace: the senses and intellect being uninjured."

Four decades later Dr. Jean-Martin Charcot added rigidity to Parkinson's excellent clinical description and attached the name Parkinson's Disease to the syndrome.

What is Parkinson's?

Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative disease. Movement is normally controlled by dopamine, a chemical that carries signals between the nerves in the brain. When cells that normally produce dopamine die, the symptoms of Parkinson’s appear.

Currently there is no cure. You can live with Parkinson’s for years. The symptoms are treated with medication. Some people with Parkinson’s may benefit from surgery. The following therapies can also help manage the symptoms:

  • Physical therapy helps mobility, flexibility and balance
  • Occupational therapy helps with daily activities
  • Speech therapy helps with voice control
  • Exercise helps muscles and joints and improves overall health and well-being 

Parkinson’s can progress at a different rate for each person. As symptoms change, medication will need to be adjusted. Beyond the physical symptoms, non-motor complications may occur. These are not always recognized, and sometimes precede a diagnosis of Parkinson’s becoming more complex as the condition progresses. Non-symptoms may include depression, difficulty swallowing, sexual problems or cognitive changes. It is important to find a doctor who is knowledgeable about Parkinson’s, ideally a neurologist. By working with a health-care team, a treatment plan can be created that will meet the person’s individual needs.