If you were asked to stop for a moment and think about the term “Parkinson’s Disease” (PD) or the term “Shaking Palsy,” what would be the first image that comes to mind?

It is likely you visualize someone shaking. According to several studies on PD, it is found that many individuals correlate the condition to miscommunications between the brain and the muscles. As Dr. James Parkinson first coined the term ‘shaking palsy’ in 1817, he goes further to explain the progressive condition. As with many neurological disorders, a neurotransmitter is miscommunicating information to the body. In this case, the neurotransmitter of focus is dopamine, which controls and coordinates signals between the brain and nervous system. The nervous system then controls and coordinates body functions. As the disease continues, the supply of dopamine starts to deplete, which is demonstrated through both motor and non-motor symptoms. Although the condition has been slow to obtain research and suggested interventions, strong efforts have been made to help us understand the complexities of living with Parkinson’s Disease.

Motor and Non-Motor Symptoms of PD

Many people are aware of the motor symptoms associated with the disease; however, many lack knowledge about the non-motor symptoms. The four main motor symptoms of PD are:

  • Bradykinesia: slow movement
  • Rigidity: stiffness of the arms, legs, or neck
  • Tremors
  • Postural instability: balance issues

According to one study done, 60% of the individuals expressed that most of their symptoms consisted of restless legs and the non-motor symptoms of constipation, feelings of sadness, low blood pressure, memory disturbances, and drooling. Interestingly, 37.8% responded that they were unaware of the correlation between the non-motor symptoms and Parkinson’s disease. Additional factors of losing independence and autonomy also put individuals at a high risk of developing depression and/or social isolation.

Improving Quality of Life for Individuals Living with Parkinson’s Disease

Although research is still developing, some recommendations have been found to improve the quality of life and promote successful outcomes in aging for individuals living with Parkinson’s Disease. One such recommendation involves a multidisciplinary approach to PD. This multidisciplinary approach includes accessing medical care and medication promptly/timely, following your medical providers’ recommendations and prescriptions, looking into physiotherapy and occupational therapies in daily routines, and exploring holistic approaches that can be applied to address the overall well-being of the individual going through this experience (Crooks, et al., 2023).

In the above-referenced study, it was concluded that about 60% of the participants wanted more reliable information about Parkinson’s disease; however, they were at a loss on where to find it. (Sang-Myung, Min-Soo, Min Jeong, & Jaw Woo , 2008). April is Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month, so take some time and explore St. Louis-based organizations found to provide support, which includes (but are not limited to):

American Parkinson Disease Association St. Louis Missouri Chapter

Mercy St. Louis

SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital

Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis Parkinson’s Disease Rehabilitation

Barnes-Jewish Hospital Neurology and Neurosurgery


Crooks, S., Carter, G., Wilson, C. B., Wynne, L., Stark, P., Doumas, M., . . . Mitchell, G. (2023). Exploring public perceptions and awareness of Parkinson’s disease: A scoping review. PLOS ONE, 1-19. doi:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0291357

Sang-Myung, C., Min-Soo, H., Min Jeong, P., & Jaw Woo , K. (2008). Nonmotor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease: Prevalence and awareness of patients and families. Parkinsonism and Related Disorders, 286-290. doi::10.1016/j.parkreldis.2007.09.002


Blog Written by former VOYCE Intern Kaylee Berger, with editing by Shelby Collier, Event Coordinator.

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