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Parkinson's disease facts

Updated on January 31, 2014

Parkinson's disease, Shaking Palsy, paralysis Agitans, Parkinsonism - is a progressive degenerative disease within the brain that causes dysfunction of the basal ganglia which functions as part of the extra pyramidal system. Basal ganglia are concerned with body movements originating in the cerebral cortex.

Etiology: unknown but thought to be due to deficiency of dopamine following disease or injury to the dopaminergic neuronal system resulting in an imbalance between dopamine and acetylcholine.

Signs and symptoms:

  • Pill-rolling and muscle rigidity are the most outstanding signs of the disease
  • Mask-like appearance
  • Shuffling gait which are slow, short steps but may become spontaneously running and is also termed "festinating gait"
  • Cog-wheel motion of joints.

Drug Therapy:

  • Levodopa - a precursor of dopamine which passes the blood brain barrier for relief of rigidity, tremors, and akinesia.
  • Anticholinergic agents - counteract the action of acetylcholine in the CNS.


Physical therapy - to combat muscle rigidity and prevent contractures including gait training.

Surgery (thalamotomy) - is the removal of malignant lesion in the thalamus to alleviate tremor rigidity.


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