How Does Parkinson's Affect Motor Control?

Reviewed on 10/26/2021

What Are Signs & Symptoms of Parkinson's?

Motor symptoms of Parkinson's worsen over time and include shaking or tremor, stiffness or rigidity, postural instability, and slowness of movement (bradykinesia).
Motor symptoms of Parkinson's worsen over time and include shaking or tremor, stiffness or rigidity, postural instability, and slowness of movement (bradykinesia).

Parkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative, chronic movement disorder that progressively worsens over time.

Parkinson’s effects on motor control, or movement, are characteristic of the disease and symptoms include:

  • Shaking or tremor
    • Shaking of the hands, arms, or legs, especially when the limb is at rest
  • Stiffness or rigidity 
    • Abnormal stiffness of the arms, legs, or trunk
  • Postural instability 
    • Diminished balance 
    • Difficulty standing or walking
    • Possible falls
  • Slowness of movement (bradykinesia)
    • Gradual loss and slowing down of spontaneous movement

What Causes Parkinson’s Disease?

The cause of Parkinson’s disease is thought to be due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. 

  • Genetics are responsible for about 10% to 15% of all cases of Parkinson's disease
  • Environmental factors associated with an increased risk of developing Parkinson's disease include: 
    • Increased age: About 1% of people over age 60 have Parkinson's disease
    • Traumatic brain injury
    • Certain occupations
    • Exposure to pesticides
    • Gender: more common in men than in women
    • Area of residence

How Is Parkinson’s Disease Diagnosed?

In addition to a physical examination, Parkinson's disease is diagnosed with a detailed patient history that includes the presence of two of the four main motor symptoms over a period of time:

  • Shaking or tremor
  • Stiffness or rigidity 
  • Postural instability 
  • Slowness of movement (bradykinesia)

What Is the Treatment for Parkinson’s Disease?

There is currently no cure for Parkinson’s disease. Treatment is based symptoms and may include medications, surgery, and lifestyle modifications.

Medications used to treat Parkinson’s disease symptoms include: 

  • Levodopa
  • Dopamine agonists
  • Amantadine 
  • Adenosine A2a antagonists
  • COMT inhibitors
  • Anticholinergic Drugs
  • MAO-B Inhibitors

Surgery for Parkinson’s disease is used in patients for whom medical treatment of tremor was not successful or for patients who suffer significant motor fluctuations (wearing off and dyskinesias). Surgical treatments for Parkinson’s disease include:

  • Deep brain stimulation (DBS) 
  • Surgery in which tube is inserted into the small intestine in order to deliver a gel formulation of carbidopa/levodopa (Duopa)

Other treatments for Parkinson’s disease include: 

  • Getting adequate rest
  • Exercise
  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Medical marijuana
  • Mediterranean diet
  • Over-the-counter (OTC) and complementary therapies
    • Antioxidants: Vitamin C and E
    • Most herbs and supplements have not been rigorously studied as safe and effective treatments for Parkinson’s disease
    • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements
    • The safety, strength, or purity of supplements not monitored by the FDA is not guaranteed
    • Talk to your doctor before using herbal or alternative remedies


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Reviewed on 10/26/2021