Parkinson's disease is a neurological movement or motor system disorder affecting approximately 1 million people in the United States. The most common symptoms of Parkinson's disease are tremor or trembling, gait, bradykinesia, or slowness of movement, instability in posture, and speech problems.

Despite the fact that the Parkinson's disease was first described nearly 200 years ago, its cause remains a mystery. Doctors and researchers do know that this disease is associated with a loss of the neurochemical dopamine in the brain. The dopamine producing cells, particularly in a region of the brainstem called substantia nigra, progressively die off for reasons that remain unknown. This progressive loss of cells leads to increasing disability over time.

Diagnosing Parkinson's Disease

Because symptoms of Parkinson's disease are shared with many other conditions, it is critical that the doctor diagnosing Parkinson's disease is an expert in the field of neurology. The first step in diagnosing Parkinson's disease is a full neurological examination. The doctor will evaluate the patient's movement, balance and coordination and looks to see if the patient's expression is animated. The physician will also look for tremor and other symptoms to help diagnose the condition.

Parkinson's Disease Treatments

The Emory Movement Disorders Center was the first American Parkinson Disease Association Center of for Advanced Research and is part of a Neurology/Neurosurgery program ranked by US News & World Report. In addition the Emory Movement Disorders Center is now offering patients the opportunity to conduct follow-up visits through telemedicine from the comfort of their homes or at our LaGrange practice. A variety of treatments for Parkinson's disease are offered at Emory:

Medical Treatments for Parkinson's Disease:

  • Administered by a neurologist specializing in movement disorders
  • There are many medical treatments available to help control symptoms of Parkinson's disease by replacing the lost dopamine in the brain. These include: Levodopa, Dopamine agonists (pramipexole, ropinirole, pergolide, apomorphine), Catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) inhibitors (entacapone, tolcapone), Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (selegiline and rasagiline), and Amantadine
  • Botulinum toxin injection program for dystonia, hemifacial spasm, spasticity and other conditions

Surgical Treatments for Parkinson's Disease:

  • Administered by neurosurgeons
  • Deep Brain Stimulation

Rehab Services for Parkinson's Disease:

  • Administered by psychiatrist