What is Parkinsonism?

Parkinsonism is a general term that describes neurological degeneration in a part of the brain called the substantia nigra. Loss of nerve cells in this area causes non-production of dopamine, which is the brain chemical responsible for movement.

The most common form of Parkinsonism is Parkinson’s disease, which is characterized by tremors—especially of fingers and hand—rigidity of muscles, slowness of movements and speech, and a masklike face. An estimated 15% of people with Parkinson's symptoms have an Atypical Parkinsonism disorder, which is usually more difficult to treat than Parkinson's disease. Atypical Parkinsonism disorders include:

  • Drug-induced Parkinsonism
  • Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP)
  • Corticobasal Degeneration (CBD)
  • Multiple System Atrophy (MSA)
  • Vascular Parkinsonism
  • Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB)

You can read more details about each of these disorders on the Parkinson's Foundation website.