Glossary of Parkinson's disease Terms

Here you will find 30 common and uncommon Parkinson's disease terms provided by a variety of sources.

Each term has a concise, easy-to-understand definition.

We know that these definitions don't provide all the information you may want or need, but they do help you begin to understand the language of "Parkinsons".

We are confident that you'll find this glossary helpful.

  • Action tremor: a tremor that increases when the hand/muscle is movingvoluntarily.
  • Agonist: a drug which increases neurotransmitter activity by stimulating the dopamine receptors directly.
  • Akinesia: no movement; muscular paralysis.
  • Anticholinergics: anti-Parkinson drugs that block the action of acetylcholine,thereby rebalancing it in relation to dopamine and reducing rigidity and tremor
  • Antihistamines: drugs that are often used to relieve cold or allergy symptoms but may also be effective in reducing tremor; many availableas Over-The-Counter pharmaceuticals.
  • Bradykinesia: slowness of all voluntary movement and speech.
  • Bradyphrenia: slowness of thought processes.
  • Delusions: a condition in which the patient has lost touch with reality and experiences hallucinations and misperceptions despite evidence that refutes them.
  • Dementia: progressive mental disorder characterized by confusion, disorientation, and personality disintegration.
  • Dopamine:a naturally occurring neurotransmitter found in the brain that regulates movement, balance, and walking. It is the substance that is lost in PD.
  • Dopaminergic: a chemical that works with the same effects as dopamine.
  • Dyskinesia: an impairment of the ability to perform voluntary movements.
  • Dysphagia: difficulty in swallowing.
  • Dystonia: a slow movement or extended spasm in a group of muscles; commonly involving head, neck, and tongue.
  • Edema: swelling; abnormal accumulation of fluid.
  • Freezing: temporary, involuntary inability to move in patients with Parkinson's Disease.
  • Heterogeneous: unlike; having dissimilar qualities.
  • Incontinence: inability to control urination or defecation.
  • Levodopa: the single most effective anti-Parkinson drug which is changed into dopamine in the brain usually combined with carbidopa (a dopa decarboxylase inhibitor) as Sinemet.
  • Lewy body: a pink-staining sphere, found in the bodies of dying cells, that is considered to be a marker for Parkinson's disease.
  • Libido: instinctual drive associated with sexual desire, pleasure, or creativity.
  • Micrographia: a change in handwriting with the script becoming smaller and more cramped.
  • Monoamine oxidase (MAO): an enzyme that breaks down dopamine. There are two types of MAO "A" and "B." In Parkinson's disease, it is beneficial to block the activity of MAO B.
  • Neurotransmitters: chemical substances that carry impulses from one nerve cell to another; found in the space (synapse) that separates the transmitting neuron's terminal (axon) from the receiving neuron's terminal (dendrite).
  • Nigral: of or referring to the substantia nigra.
  • Norepinephrine: a neurotransmitter found mainly in areas of the brain that are involved in governing autonomic nervous system activity; increases blood pressure by vasoconstriction, but does not affect cardiac output.
  • On-off phenomena: abrupt changes in performance during the day caused by the taking effect or wearing off of anti-parkinson drugs.
  • Parkinson's disease (PD): a chronic neurological condition named after Dr. James Parkinson, a London physician who was the first to describe the syndrome in 1817. PD is a slowly progressive disease that affects a small area of cells in the mid brain known as the substantia nigra. Gradual degeneration of these cells causes a reduction in a vital chemical known as "dopamine." This decrease in dopamine is what causes the symptoms of the disease.
  • Resting tremor: a tremor of a limb that increases when the limb is at rest.
  • Rigidity: a condition of hardness, stiffness, or inflexibility of a limb.
  • Spasm: a condition in which a muscle or group of muscles involuntarily contracts as in a convulsion or seizure.
  • Substantia nigra: a small area of the brain containing a cluster of black-pigmented nerve cells that produce dopamine which is then transmitted to the striatum.
  • Sustention (postural) tremor: a tremor of a limb that increases when the limb is stretched.
  • Tremor: rhythmic, purpose-less, quivering movements of a limb, head, mouth, tongue, or other part of the body.

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