What is Parkinson's Disease?

Parkinson's disease was first described by Dr. James Parkinson in 1817 in his Essay on the Shaking Palsy. Parkinson's is a progressive, degenerative brain disorder. 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. Parkinson's disease is not just a movement disorder. It is also characterized by a number of non-motor symptoms including depression and anxiety.

More than 25 people a day in Canada are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and by 2031 this number is projected to be 51 people a day!

Most Common Symptoms Other Symptoms
  • Tremor
  • Slowness and stiffness
  • Impaired balance
  • Rigidity of the muscles
  • Fatigue
  • Soft Speech
  • Problems with handwriting
  • Stooped posture
  • Constipation
  • Sleep disturbances

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 will worsen over time; each person with Parkinson’s is unique and may experience different symptoms and different rates of progression. As the disease progresses, non-motor symptoms may also appear, such as depression, difficulty swallowing, sexual problems or cognitive changes. Finding the right treatment as symptoms change over time is important and requires the expertise of specialized health-care professionals. 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.

For more information on Parkinson's disease, please visit www.parkinson.ca.


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