Parkinson's disease (PD) is a slowly progressive condition resulting from a deficiency in the brain of a chemical called dopamine.
Dopamine is one of many chemical messengers (called neurotransmitters) in the brain that allow nerve cells to communicate with each other. Without it, messages from the brain to the muscles are disrupted. Over a period of time symptoms appear that include:
- Tremor (shaking) when the body and limbs are at rest
- Slowness and difficulty beginning a voluntary movement, such as standing up from a chair or turning around, and difficulty with fine precise movements such as doing up buttons. (called bradykinesia)
- Muscle stiffness, also called
- Difficulty with maintaining balance (called postural instability)
The amount of dopamine in the brain is reduced in Parkinson's disease because some of the nerve cells that produce it are destroyed.
The small group of nerve cells affected in Parkinson's disease nerve cells lies deep in the brain, in a region called the substantia nigra (black substance), a part of the brain involved in initiating movement. It is situated near the center of the brain and contains a clump of dark cells that manufacture dopamine.
Parkinson's disease is named after the English physician Dr. James Parkinson, who described it in 1817. However there is a much earlier description of Parkinson's disease among the writings of Leonardo da Vinci, in the Royal collection at Windsor Castle in England.
Facts About Parkinson's Disease