What is Parkinson’s?
Parkinson’s is a degenerative condition in which brain cells that make the chemical dopamine are lost. Since dopamine is necessary for messages to travel up and down nerves, one frequent symptom of Parkinson’s is slow movement and stiff muscles. There are, however, literally dozens of symptoms that can occur with Parkinson’s, which means that diagnosis starts by identifying multiple symptoms to determine whether or not the patient is presenting a set of Parkinsonian symptoms.
The surest diagnostic tool is a DATscan, which measures dopamine levels in the brain. The procedure is complex and may not be offered if a neurologist is confident that sufficient Parkinsonian symptoms have already been identified.
Some practical aspects of Parkinson’s are covered in the following pages: