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Parkinson's Disease Health Center

Glossary of Parkinson's Disease Terms

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Azilect: A once-daily drug that can be taken alone in early Parkinson's disease or with other medications as the disease progresses. Azilect slows the breakdown of the brain chemical dopamine. Early animal studies suggest Azilect may also slow progression of Parkinson's. Side effects include headache, joint pain, indigestion, and depression. 

Basal ganglia or nuclei: These are structures located deep in the brain that are responsible for normal movement such as walking. The basal ganglia are made up of three main parts, the caudate nucleus, the putamen, and the globus pallidus.

Benign essential tremor: A condition characterized by tremor of the hands, head, voice, and other parts of the body. Essential tremor often runs in families and is sometimes called familial tremor. It is sometimes mistaken for a symptom of Parkinson's.

Beta-blockers: Drugs that block the action of the hormone epinephrine. Usually used to treat high blood pressure and heart disease, they may be effective in the treatment of benign essential tremor (see above).

Bilateral: Occurring on both sides of the body.

Blepharospasm: Spasms of the eyelid, spasmodic blinking, or involuntary closing of the eyelids.

Bradykinesia: Slowing down of movement. It is a major symptom of Parkinson's.

Carbidopa (Lodosyn): A drug that is usually given in combination with a Parkinson's drug called levodopa; the combination is called Sinemet. Carbidopa improves the effectiveness of levodopa and can be used to reduce the side effects of levodopa.

Central nervous system (CNS): The brain and spinal cord.

Cerebellum: Part of the brain that is involved in coordination of movements.

Cerebral cortex: The largest part of the brain, responsible for thought, reasoning, memory, sensation, and voluntary movement.

Chorea: A type of abnormal movement or dyskinesia, characterized by continuing, rapid, dance-like movements. May result from high doses of levodopa and/or long-term levodopa treatment.

Choreoathetosis: A type of abnormal movement or dyskinesia characterized by involuntary jerky snake-like movements usually of the arms.

Cogwheel rigidity: Stiffness in the muscles, with a jerky quality when arms and legs are repeatedly moved.

Constipation: Decreased ability of intestinal muscles to move stool through the bowels, often resulting in difficulty moving the bowels or in very hard stools.

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