Parkinson disease

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By Samuel A Frank MD

Parkinson disease is also known as or subsumes Idiopathic parkinsonism, Paralysis agitans, and Shaking palsy. -ed.

Parkinson disease is one of the most common movement disorders that can be a challenge to diagnose and treat. In this clinical article, Dr. Samuel Frank, Associate Professor of Neurology at Boston University, provides an introduction to the clinical features, etiology, pathophysiology, epidemiology, and differential diagnosis of Parkinson disease. He reviews current medical therapies and treatment strategies in managing early and later stages of Parkinson disease. There is a summary of surgical interventions, including deep-brain stimulation, gene therapies, and cell-based transplant strategies. Although Parkinson disease is a chronic progressive neurodegenerative disease, there is hope for slowing the progression of the disease; using current clinical management strategies, patients can live longer and function better with their disease.

Key Points

  • Parkinson disease is a neurodegenerative brain disorder characterized by bradykinesia, rest tremor, and rigidity as the motor signs, but the disease can impact all systems in the body.
  • Parkinson disease is diagnosed clinically, but there are emerging diagnostic studies and biomarkers, such as the use of SPECT, to aid in diagnosis and in monitoring progression of the disease.
  • The etiology of Parkinson disease remains unknown for the vast majority of cases, but more genetic and environmental influences emerge yearly.
  • Treatment remains symptomatic, but length and quality of life can be dramatically improved with proper management.
  • Protective and restorative therapies are under development, but are not currently proven or available.