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While self-assessment tools can be informative and help individuals monitor disease progression or relative severity of the disease, these tools are simply that, tools. They should not be used to replace the diagnostic skills and benefits of professional evaluation. To better interpret these tools individuals should consult their physician and other healthcare providers.

Person with Parkinson’s

The Parkinson Self Assessment Tool. The Cure Parkinson’s Trust

The Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) is a rating scale used to follow the longitudinal course of Parkinson's disease

PDQ 39 - Quality of Life Assessment in PD

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Other disease may cause symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease. The term Parkinsonism is used to indicate a patient has symptoms similar to Parkinson’s. Approximately 15% of Parkinsonism is due to diseases other than Parkinson’s disease.

Diagnosing Parkinson Related Diseases

Early in the disease process it may be difficult to distinguish between Parkinson’s disease and Parkinson-like diseases. Frequently the correct diagnosis can only be made after further symptoms develop and the physician is able to monitor the course of the disease. The development of additional symptoms and the subsequent course of the disease generally points to the correct diagnosis.

Parkinsonism Diseases

There is no cure or known cause for the following Parkinson-like diseases.

Parkinsonism other than PD should be considered particularly in patients with:

  • Poor response to dopamine
  • Early loss of balance
  • Prominent intellectual changes - dementia
  • Rapid onset or progression
  • Rapid decrease in blood pressure resulting in dizziness when standing up
  • Urinary and bowel incontinence
  • Little or no tremor

Supranuclear Palsy (PSP)

  • PSP is one of the more common forms of Parkinsonism.
  • Symptoms usually begin after age 50 and progress more rapidly than PD.
  • Symptoms may include balance difficulties, sudden falls, an impaired ability to perform certain voluntary eye movements and visual disturbances.
  • Individuals may experience slurred speech, swallowing difficulties and personality changes.
  • Dementia develops later in the disease.
  • Parkinson’s medications areoften tried and may provide some benefit.
  • Speech and physical therapy are important for the management of PSP.

Learn more about PSP

Multiple System Atrophy (MSA)

  • MSA is a collective term for several rare disorders in which multiple systems in the body deteriorate.
  • The mean age of onset is in the mid-50s.
  • Symptoms may include lack of coordination, poor balance, abnormal autonomic function, slow movement (Bradykinesia) and rigidity.
  • Patients respond poorly to PD medications.

Learn more about MSA

Lewy Bodies Disease (LBD) or Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB)

  • DLB is a neurodegenerative disorder that results in progressive and fluctuating cognitive changes and functional deterioration.
  • Symptoms include early dementia, hallucinations, poor attention span and problem solving skills, poor problem solving skills, and Parkinsonism.
  • There are no known therapies to stop or slow the progression of DLB
  • Levodopa can make the hallucinations worse.
  • Many people with LBD enjoy significant improvement of their symptoms with a comprehensive approach to treatment, and some can have remarkably little change from year to year.
  • Some people with LBD are extremely sensitive or may react negatively to certain medications used to treat Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s in addition.

Read FAQs about LBD

Corticobasal Degeneration (CBD)

  • CBD is the least common of the atypical causes of Parkinsonism.
  • CBD develops after age 60 and progresses more rapidly than PD.
  • Initial symptoms include slow movement, rigidity, muscle contractions in the limbs, postural instability, and disturbances of language.
  • CBD is a clinical diagnosis.
  • There is no specific treatment for CBD.
  • Supportive treatment such as botulinum toxin (Botox) for dystonia.antidepressants, speech and physical therapy may be helpful.
  • Common PD medications such as levadopa seldom help.

Help is a phone call away! (303) 861-1810


Parkinson’s Disease Young Onset Overview

  • 10% of all people diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease are 50 years or younger.
  • In young onset Parkinson’s the first symptom is often dystonia involuntary muscle contractions that may cause stiffness, twisting and repetitive motions in the limbs.
  • Leg or foot dystonia is particularly common affecting about 50 percent of diagnosed young people.

Symptoms in Young Onset Parkinson’s

Many of the more common signs of Parkinson’s in the elderly are less common in young onset Parkinson’s disease including;

  • Tremors
  • Cognitive problems such as memory loss and dementia
  • Loss of balance and coordination

Unique Challenges for Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease

Apart from the physical challenges, people with young onset Parkinson’s face unique issues related to family, career, finances and living long-term with a potentially disabling condition. Young persons with PD may ask the following questions:

  • How will the disease affect my employment ?
  • What steps should I take in regard to financial planning ?
  • What will my family life be like now that I have PD?
  • Should I tell my employer?

Talking with other people the same age, with the same condition, can be very helpful. Consider joining the young onset support group 

Treatment of Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease

Treatment for young onset Parkinson’s is generally the same as for the elderly. The most commonly prescribed medicine is levodopa. This drug has a significant effect on symptoms and results can be seen within days. But in younger people the adverse side effects of the drug are rapid, far more so than in the elderly and can bring about involuntary movements (known as dyskinesias).

Young patients are better candidates for DBS (Deep Brain Stimulation) and other new surgical techniques and medicines because they are less likely to have other age-related diseases. Consult a movement disorder specialist to determine if you are a candidate for DBS.

Resources for Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease

Young Onset Support Group - Parkinson Association of the Rockies

The American Parkinson Disease Association’s National Young Onset Center

PDLife – iPhone App, Parkinson Association of the Rockies


Signs of Parkinson’s disease include motor and no-motor symptoms. Each person with Parkinson's experiences the disease differently. While tremors are a common primary symptom not all people with PD have tremors. Additional, symptoms and disease progress at different rates between individuals.

Primary Symptoms of Parkinson’s

Tremor – Tremors occur in about 70% of those living with Parkinson’s. At first, the tremor appears on one side of the body in the hand or foot while relaxed or at rest.

Slowness of Movement (Bradykinesia) – Individuals with Parkinson’s disease may experience a change in spontaneous movement that causes a person with Parkinson’s to respond slowly and often lack facial expressions (masked face).

Rigidity – Muscles may fail to relax like normal muscles causing the individual to appear rigid and have a decreased range of motion. Rigidity may be painful.

Postural Instability – Loss of some reflexes needed to maintain a normal posture may cause individuals to be unstable when standing upright. Postural instability increases the likelihood of falling.

Secondary motor symptoms include:

  • Problems with speech and voice
  • Incontinence
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Freezing

Non-motor symptoms of PD include:

  • Excessive sweating – especially of hands and feet
  • Constipation
  • Dry skin
  • Mood changes – anxiety and depression
  • Cognitive changes
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Hyper sexuality or low sex drive
  • Frequent urination and incontinence

The symptoms someone has and how quickly the condition develops will differ from one person to the next. Always consult your doctor to determine if the symptoms you’re experiencing may be a sign of Parkinson’s disease or a sign of other health issues.

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