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Parkinson's Disease Health Center

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Glossary of Parkinson's Disease Terms


Paralysis agitans: The Latin form of the older, popular term "shaking palsy," which was used to designate early Parkinson's diagnosis.

Postural instability: Difficulty with balance.

Postural tremor: Tremor that increases when hands are stretched out in front.

Precursor: Something that precedes, (for example, Levodopa is a precursor to dopamine in that levodopa is converted to dopamine in the brain).

Progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP): A degenerative brain condition sometimes difficult to distinguish from Parkinson's disease especially in the early stages. PSP symptoms are rigidity and akinesia (loss of muscle movement), difficulty looking up and down, and speech and balance problems. Those with PSP often have poor response to Parkinson's disease medications.

Prolopa: A drug used to treat Parkinson's. It is composed of levodopa and benserazide.

Propulsive gait: Disturbance of gait typical of people with symptoms of Parkinson's in which, during walking, steps become faster and faster with progressively shorter steps that passes from a walking to a running pace and may precipitate falling forward.

Range of motion: The extent that a joint will move from being fully straightened to completely bent.

Receptor: A structure located on the nerve cell that receives the chemical messenger (neurotransmitter, such as dopamine) sent from an adjacent nerve cell. This is how nerve cells communicate. Most of the drugs used to treat Parkinson's disease are designed to interact with nerve cell receptors and improve nerve cell communication.

Resting tremor: Shaking that occurs in a relaxed and supported limb.

Retropulsive gait: Walking that is propelled backwards.

Rigidity: Muscular stiffness that is common in people with Parkinson's disease. It is characterized by a resistance to movement in the limbs.

Requip (ropinirole): A new drug used to treat Parkinson's. It works by increasing the amount of dopamine available in the brain.

Seborrhoea: Increased oily secretions from the sweat glands of the skin; occurs often in those with Parkinson's disease.

Seborrhoeic dermatitis: Inflammation of the skin sometimes associated with seborrhoea.

Shaking palsy: Old term used for what we now call Parkinson's disease.

Shy-Drager syndrome: A rare condition where there is failure of the autonomic nervous system and abnormalities in muscle function. A person with Shy-Drager syndrome has symptoms of Parkinson's (Parkinsonism), extremely low blood pressure that worsens upon standing, bladder problems, severe constipation, and decreased sweating.

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