What is Parkinson's Disease? | F. Rainer von Coelln, MD, teaches a student about PD

Parkinson’s disease is a disease of the nervous system (brain and nerves) that gradually gets worse over time.

In Parkinson’s disease, cells in one area of the brain die (an area called the “substantia nigra”) and the brain doesn’t make enough of the chemical dopamine.

These changes result in symptoms such as stiffness, tremor (shaking), slow movements, and trouble with walking.

Why do I have PD?

In most patients, Parkinson’s disease is “sporadic,” which means it occurs in someone for no clear reason.

Less than 10% of patients diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease have a form that runs in the family.

Our center is doing research to try to learn if genetics may be part of why people get Parkinson’s disease even if Parkinson’s disease doesn’t run in their family.

Working Towards a Cure

While there is currently no cure for Parkinson’s disease, there are now many different medications that can help with the symptoms of the disease.

For some people with Parkinson’s disease, surgery can help treat symptoms, too.

There is a great deal of research on all aspects of Parkinson’s disease, including how to slow or stop its progression. You can read about Parkinson’s disease research at the University of Maryland.