What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s disease is the second most common chronic, progressive, neurologic disease, behind only Alzheimer’s. Due to a dramatic increase in the age of our population, genetics, and environmental factors associated with an increased risk for the disease, many physicians believe that we may be on the cusp of an emerging pandemic.

Parkinson’s is a disease of the central nervous system that touches almost every aspect of daily living, including movement, mood, speech, eating and drinking, sleep, and cognitive changes. It progresses over time, robbing a person of independence through increasing complications, as well as greatly impacting the lives of the patient’s loved ones.
Early warning signs of Parkinson’s disease include loss of smell, tremor or shaking, small handwriting, difficulty sleeping, trouble moving or walking, constipation, masked face, a soft or low voice, dizziness or fainting, and hunched over posture. While there is no objective test to diagnose PD, typically, a neurologist takes a careful medical history and performs a thorough neurological examination, looking in particular for two or more of the following cardinal signs to be present: Resting tremor, Slowed movement, Rigidity, Postural instability.
Since 1995, the Parkinson Foundation Western PA (PFWPA) has been improving the quality of life of persons with Parkinson’s and their care partners. We advocate for our members and educate the community about PD, as well as nurture relationships among those involved in the care of persons with PD.
The PFWPA connects people to the information, support services, programs, and activities they need to enhance wellness, live an active and engaged life, and delay the progression of the disease. All across Western Pennsylvania, we offer movement and exercise classes, support groups, social activities, and educational programming for people with PD, their care partners, and families.
It is through the generous gifts of individuals in our community that we are able to provide these critical programs and services. We receive no government funding and rely solely on the generosity of individual donors. Please consider making a gift.

Editor’s Note: For more information about PD and the Foundation, please call 412.837.2542 or email info@pfwpa.org.