Neurology Conditions

Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson's disease (PD) is a neurological disorder affecting approximately 1 million people in the United States. The most common symptoms of PD are tremor, slowness of movement, and/or gait and balance problems. The hallmark of PD is a loss of dopamine, a neurochemical 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.

There are also several disorders related to Parkinson's Disease that are frequently referred to as "Parkinson's Plus" syndromes or Atypical Parkinsonism. In addition to causing motor symptoms similar to Parkinson's disease, atypical disorders also severely disrupt other functions, such as cognition, vision, and blood pressure regulation. These atypical syndromes include Lewy Body Dementia (LBD), Multiple System Atrophy (MSA), Corticobasal Degeneration (CBD) and Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP).

Diagnosing Parkinson's Disease and Related Disorders

The first step in diagnosing PD and its related disorders is a full neurological examination with a focus on the patient's movement, balance and coordination.  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.

Treatments for Parkinson's Disease and Related Disorders

While there is no known cure for Parkinson's disease, there are medications and surgical procedures (deep brain stimulation therapy, radiofrequency (RF) ablation and gamma knife surgeries) designed to improve symptoms. Physical, occupational, and speech therapy (such as our Speak Out! speech therapy program) may also be beneficial. Our team of physicians and nurse practitioners will work with you to determine which course of disease management is best.

Watch the following segment from “Your Fantastic Mind,” which focuses on therapies for Parkinson’s disease:

Why Choose Emory? 

Emory is a Center of Excellence in Parkinson’s Disease and offers a variety of unique services to its patients, including a Comprehensive Care Clinic for PD patients, large deep brain stimulation (DBS) team, and a number of research opportunities.

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