Parkinson's disease has it's own set of terms and definitions. Below is a list of some of the medical terminology you are likely to encounter as you explore PD.
Parkinson’s disease: Glossary
"Parkinson's disease: Glossary" is part of an ongoing educational series presented by the Good Samaritan Society addressing Parkinson's disease and those who live with it.
Akinesia: Inability to move (“freezing”) or difficulty in initiating or maintaining a body motion. From the Greek a, without, and kinesia, movement.
Basal ganglia: A region deep within the brain consisting of large clusters of neurons responsible for voluntary movements such as walking and movement coordination. Many of the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are brought on by loss of or damage to dopamine neurons in this region, which encompasses the striatum, the subthalmic nucleus, and the substantia nigra.
Bradykinesia: One of the cardinal clinical features of Parkinson’s disease, the slowing down and loss of spontaneous and voluntary movement. From the Greek brady, slow, and kinesia, movement.
Cognitive dysfunction: The loss of intellectual functions (such as thinking, remembering, and reasoning) of sufficient severity to interfere with daily functioning. The term cognitive dysfunction includes dementia and executive dysfunction, and may also encompass changes in personality, mood, and behavior. Cognitive dysfunction in Parkinson's disease typically does not respond to dopamine replacement therapy and ranges from mild impairment to dementia.
Dopamine: A neurotransmitter chemical produced in the brain that helps control movement, balance, and walking. Lack of dopamine is the primary cause of Parkinson's motor symptoms.
Dyskinesia: Involuntary, uncontrollable, and often excessive movements that are a common side effect of levodopa treatment for Parkinson's disease. These movements can be lurching, dance-like or jerky, and are distinct from the rhythmic tremor commonly associated with Parkinson's disease.
Dysphagia: Difficulty swallowing. A common problem in Parkinson's that increases the risk of inhaling food or liquids into the airways, which in its later stages can lead to a condition known as "aspiration pneumonia."
Freezing: Abrupt and temporary inability of Parkinson's patients to move that frequently occurs when beginning to walk or at a boundary such as a door or when exiting a car.
Hypokinesia: A clinical term for the slow or diminished movement associated with Parkinson's disease. From the Greek hypo, less, and kinesia, movement.
Lee Silverman Voice Training BIG (LSVT BIG): A program developed specifically to address the unique movement impairments for people with Parkinson disease. The therapy is both intensive and complex, with many repetitions of core movements that are used in daily living.
Lee Silverman Voice Training LOUD (LSVT LOUD): An effective speech treatment for individuals with Parkinson disease (PD) and other neurological conditions.
Levodopa: Also called L-dopa, the most commonly administered drug to treat Parkinson's symptoms. Levodopa helps restore levels of dopamine, a chemical messenger in the brain responsible for smooth, coordinated movement and other motor and cognitive functions.
Lewy bodies: Abnormal protein clumps that accumulate in dead or dying dopamine-producing cells of the substantia nigra in Parkinson's disease. At autopsy, the presence of Lewy bodies is used to confirm a Parkinson's diagnosis.
Neuron: A nerve cell used to transmit information within the central nervous system. Parkinson's disease involves death of and/or damage to dopamine neurons.
Neurotransmitter: A specialized chemical messenger (e.g. dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin) that sends messages from one nerve cell to another. Most neurotransmitters play different roles throughout the body, many of which are not yet known.
Progressive supranuclear palsy: Progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) is a movement disorder that can be mistaken for Parkinson's disease. PSP is a degenerative disease of unknown cause characterized by problems looking up and down, frequent falls and parkinsonism. It does not consistently respond to dopamine replacement therapy.
Resting tremor: One of the cardinal clinical features of Parkinson's disease, an unwanted and uncontrollable movement that affects a limb when it is at rest and stops for the duration of a voluntary movement.
Serotonin: A brain neurotransmitter that may be deficient in some cases of depression and whose potential role in Parkinson's disease is under investigation.
Sinemet: The brand name of the most commonly prescribed version of the drug levodopa, consisting of a combination of levodopa and carbidopa.
Striatum: The largest component of the basal ganglia, the striatum controls movement, balance, and walking. It is sometimes called the corpus striatum. Loss of dopamine in the striatum is responsible for many of the symptoms of Parkinson's disease.
Substantia nigra: From the Latin for "black substance," the substantia nigra is a part of the basal ganglia that is rich in dopamine-producing nerve cells and the black pigment neuromelanin. In Parkinson's disease the loss of nerve cells from this region leads to a dopamine deficit and subsequently to Parkinson's symptoms.
Subthalamic nucleus: Subthalamic nucleus (STN) is a nerve center near the substantia nigra. The STN may be targeted for deep brain stimulation (DBS) to reduce Parkinson's symptoms.
Tremor: Involuntary, uncontrollable, rhythmic movements (fast or slow) that may affect the hands, head, voice or other body parts. Resting tremor is one of the cardinal clinical features of Parkinson's disease.
Young-onset Parkinson's disease: A rare form of Parkinson's disease characterized by onset of symptoms before age 40.
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One couple shares their successes following his diagnosis of Parkinson's disease.