Parkinson’s Glossary

Parkinson's word cloud

If you’ve just been diagnosed, or you’re a Parkinson’s veteran, there may be terms you come across on the web in support groups. This is a short glossary of terms to help you find your way.


    • PWP – A person with Parkinson’s.
    • Parkie – A person with Parkinson’s, self-deprecating, humorous.
    • Neuro – Neurologist, usually the main point of contact until diagnosed.
    • MDS – Movement Disorder Specialist, a specialist who is a must-have with Parkinson’s.
    • Neuropsychiatrist – A specialized doctor dealing with psychiatric disorders resulting from Parkinson’s.
    • Young-Onset Parkinson’s – Cases in which Parkinson’s is diagnosed before the age of 50.
    • Juvenile Parkinson’s – Cases in which Parkinson’s is diagnosed before the age of 21.

The Disease

    • Parkinson’s – The disease, named after James Parkinson’s, after he published a paper in 1817 called “The Shaking Palsy”.
    • Dopamine – The chemical, whose deficiency in the brain is involved with Parkinson’s.
    • Tremor – A constant shaking or vibration, usually in the hands, and a common symptom in Parkinson’s.
    • Rigidity – Tightness of muscles, anywhere in the body, but mostly in the extremities. A common symptom in Parkinson’s.
    • Slowness – Movements characterized by slow movement in the body. A common symptom in Parkinson’s.


    • Dyskinesia – Excessive movements of the body caused by long-term use of medication.
    • Bradykinesia – The slow or impaired movements that prevent the body from moving on-demand (shuffled walking, dragging foot, masked face, etc.).
    • Dystonia – A symptom causing the body to contort or muscles to contract involuntarily.
    • Depression – A common non-motor symptom of Parkinson’s.
    • Anxiety – A common non-motor symptom of Parkinson’s.
    • Apathy – The lack of feeling, emotion, interest, or concern. Very common in Parkinson’s.


    • Sinemet or Carbidopa/Levodopa – the gold standard medication for Parkinson’s. Most patients start out with this before moving on to other treatments. The carbidopa breaks through the blood-brain barrier, allowing the levodopa to convert into dopamine in the brain.
    • Amantadine – Anti-dyskinesia medication.
    • Dopamine Agonists – A class of medication that mimics the effect of dopamine without being converted in the brain.
    • DBS / Deep Brain Stimulation – An advanced surgery in which thin, metal leads are implanted into the deep brain and connected to a neurostimulator in order to alleviate Parkinson’s symptoms.
    • L-Dopa or Duopa Pump – A device implanted into the stomach via the abdomen that delivers a continuous stream of liquid carbidopa/levodopa while bypassing the digestive system.
    • Exercise – Incredibly important to help slow the progression. Cycling, walking, running, boxing, and weights are known to be best to slow the disease.

Related, but slightly different diagnoses

    • Dementia with Lewy bodies
    • Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP)
    • Essential Tremor
    • Restless Leg Syndrome
    • PLMD – Periodic Limb Movement Disorder

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Nick Pernisco is the Parkinson’s Warrior, a person with Parkinson’s who has dedicated his life to helping others with Parkinson’s. Get the Parkinson’s Warrior book here. Join the discussion on Facebook.