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Glossary of terms concerning Parkinson's Disease

This glossary of terms and phrases about PD covers all of the typical medical and scientific terms as well as healthcare, disability and legal phrases patients and their families encounter as the disease progresses.

Activities of Daily Living
These are the mundane activities we perform each day (e.g., dressing, bathing, cooking, paying bills, eating, toileting, shopping, walking from one room to another, talking with others, leisure activities etc).

Agonist
A drug is an agonist if it attaches itself to a cell in such a way as to make it act or work as it usually acts when it is normally stimulated by chemicals within the body or brain. In the case of Parkinson's disease and agonist (like bromocriptine) stimulates a specific neurochemical cell or receptor to produce more of its natural product (dopamine).

Akinesia
"A" means without and "kinesia" means movement so akinesia means without movement.

Antioxidants
Body chemicals that scavenge for and neutralize free radicals.

Apathy
What is apathy, and how does Parkinson's affect feelings of apathy?

Ataxia
Loss of balance and coordination.

Athetosis
Involuntary, repetitive movements, especially with the hands, fingers, and (sometimes) feet. The movements can be writhing and slow.

Basal Ganglia
Groups of cells deep in the base of the brain that use dopamine and other neurochemicals to program complex movements. The basal ganglia is composed of many structures important in Parkinson's disease including the subthalamic nucleus and the pallidum.

Bilateral
Occurring on both sides of the body.

Bradykinesia
Slow movement. "Brady" means slower and "kinesia" means movement.

Bradyphrenia
What is bradyphrenia?

Carbidopa
Carbidopa is a drug that prevents the nausea and vomiting sometimes associated with levodopa. 'Sinemet' combines carbidopa with levodopa in one tablet. Usually dose of each drug is given as a ratio with carbidopa on top and levodopa on bottom. So a dose of 25/100 would indicate 25 milligrams of carbidopa and 100 milligrams of levodopa.

Clinical Trials
A clinical trial is a test of a new drug or treatment to evaluate its effectiveness and safety. Often clinical trials are run by the big drug companies with hundreds of participants and dozens of study sites around the country. Clinical trials are by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before a new drug or treatment can be put on the market.

Cogwheeling
A brief definition of cogwheeeling motion.

Computerized Axial Tomography (CAT or CT Scan)
A brief definition of Computerized Axial Tomography (CAT or CT scan).

Deep Brain Stimulation
What is deep braim stimulation (DBS)?

Disinhibition
When a previously suppressed behavior or function is allowed to surface or function because some other behavior or function that had been preventing its emergence is now no longer doing so.

Dopamine Agonist
A brief definition of dopamine agonists.

Dopamine
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter or brain chemical that is depleted in Parkinson's Disease. Most drugs that relieve Parkinson symptoms work by increasing doapmine levels in the brain.

Dyskinesia
A brief definition of dyskinesia.

Dysphagia
A brief definition of dysphagia.

Essential Tremor
A brief explanation of essential tremor and why it is different from Parkinson's disease.

Free Radicals
Find out what free radicals are and how they affect Parkinson's disease.

Freezing
Find out what "freezing" is in Parkinson's disease.

Hallucination
What is a hallucination?

Hoehn and Yahr Stages
Learn about the Hoehn and Yahr Stages.

Impulse Control Disorder
A brief definition of impulse control disorders.

Lee Silverman Voice Treatment
Find out how Lee Silverman Voice Treatment can help speech and language problems in Parkinson's disease.

Levodopa
Levodopa is converted into dopamine in the brain, and combined with carbidopa is used to treat the motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease.

Lewy Bodies
A brief definition of Lewy bodies

Masked Facies
a brief definition of "masked facies"

Micrographia
A brief definition of micrographia.

Multiple System Atrophy
A brief definition of Multiple System Atrophy.

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
A brief definition of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).

Neuron
A brief definition of the term neuron.

On-Off Phenomenon
A brief definition of the on-off phenomenon.

Parkinson's Disease
PD is a brain disorder involving loss of the chemical messenger dopamine. It is a progressive disorder, meaning that it typically gets worse over the years. Dopamine normally controls muscle activity so PD primarily affects movement. Its three cardinal signs are tremor (trembling which usually starts in one hand), rigidity in the trunk or limbs and slowness of movement.

Placebo Effect
A brief definition of the placebo effect.

Positron-Emission Tomography
A brief definition of positron-emission tomography.

Postural Instability
A brief definition of postural instability.

Resting Tremor
What is Resting Tremor?

Rigidity
What is Rigidity?

Sinemet
A brief description of the drug Sinemet

Stem Cell
A brief definition of stem cells.

Substantial Nigra
A brief definition of the substantial nigra.

Tremor
A brief definition of tremor.

Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale
Find out what the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) is.

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