Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive movement disorder that develops due to degeneration of nerve cells that control movement. Dopamine, a neurotransmitting chemical produced in the brain, works along with other neurotransmitters to coordinate smooth and controlled body movements. Patients diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease have insufficient amounts of Dopamine causing their symptoms.

Development, symptoms, degrees of severity, and progression of Parkinson’s Disease differ in all patients, however, there are typical patterns of progression.

Early stage: A patient may experience subtle symptoms that are generally not disruptive to the activities of daily living. Symptoms during the initial stage usually only occur on one side of the body. A patient may notice difficulty walking, a change in their posture, or development of a tremor.

Mild stage: Symptoms begin to worsen and begin to affect both sides of the body. Change in posture and difficulty walking become more apparent and can lead to increased balance issues and falls. A patient may still be fully independent during the mild stage of Parkinson’s disease, however, the activities of daily living become increasingly difficult to complete.

Mid-late stage: The severity of symptoms becomes more severe and limiting. The ability to walk, stand, and balance without assistance often leads to the need for a walker. Patients also become more dependent on the assistance of others to complete activities of daily living as their symptoms interfere on a more persistent basis.

Advanced stage: The patient is no longer able to function independently. Their symptoms become severely debilitating and the need for full-time care and assistance becomes necessary. Some patients may also develop hallucinations and delusions.


Symptoms can include but are not limited to:


Initial diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease can be difficult as the early stage can mimic other disorders. To begin the process, a patient requires a neurological evaluation in which a provider will review current and past medical history, family history, current symptoms, medications, and potential environmental exposures. A provider will also examine for signs of tremor and muscle rigidity. The patient will also be asked to walk so their posture, speed, and coordination can be evaluated.

No specific test can diagnose Parkinson’s Disease, however, certain bloodwork and radiology scans such as MRIs and PET scans may be ordered to rule out other medical conditions. Though not required, some providers may also order a special radiology scan called a DaTscan to support thes diagnosis.