Parkinson's disease is a disorder of the central nervous system that causes shaking, rigid muscles, slow movements, and poor balance. The disease is progressive, meaning it tends to get worse over time.
American actor Michael J. Fox first noticed the twitch in his left little finger while filming the 1991 movie Doc Hollywood. He remembers looking at the shaking finger and thinking, “Geez, what's that?”
Within six months, Fox's entire left hand started to twitch uncontrollably, and parts of his body started to feel stiff. Fox was concerned, so he visited a doctor.
Fox was only 29 years old and appeared to be in excellent health. His roles often required physical stunts that he performed with ease. He never expected to find out that his shaking hand and rigid muscles meant he had Parkinson's disease, a condition that is more common among people over 50 years of age. Although his doctor told Fox he only had about 10 years left in which he'd be able to work, Fox has continued to act, even starring in his own sitcom, The Michael J. Fox Show, in 2013. Fox also runs a foundation dedicated to Parkinson's research and therapies.
Ahlskog, J. Eric. The New Parkinson's Disease Treatment Book: Partnering with Your Doctor to Get the Most from Your Medications, 2nd ed. London: Oxford University Press, 2015.
Colen, B. D. “Possible Progress against Parkinson's.” Harvard Gazette. http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2015/03/possible-progress-against-parkinsons/ (accessed March 8, 2016).
Hamilton, Jon. “Can a Cancer Drug Reverse Parkinson's Disease and Dementia?” NPR.org . October 17, 2015. http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/10/17/448323916/can-a-cancer-drugreverse-parkinsons-disease-and-dementia (accessed March 8, 2016).
Palfreman, Jon. Brain Storms: The Race to Unlock the Mysteries of Parkinson's Disease. New York: Scientific American/Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015.
Remedy's Health.com Communities. “Parkinson's Disease.” http://www.healthcommunities.com/parkinsons-disease/overview-of-parkinsons.shtml (accessed March 8, 2016).
American Parkinson Disease Association. 135 Parkinson Ave., Staten Island, NY 10305. Toll-free: 800-223-2732. Telephone: 718-981-8001. Website: http://www.apdaparkinson.org (accessed March 8, 2016).
The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research. Grand Central Station, PO Box 4777, New York, NY 10163. Toll-free: 800-708-7644. Website: https://www.michaeljfox.org (accessed March 8, 2016).
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. PO Box 5801, Bethesda, MD 20824. Telephone: 301-496-5751. Website: http://www.ninds.nih.gov (accessed March 6, 2016).
National Parkinson Foundation. 200 SE 1st St., Suite 800, Miami, FL 33131. Toll-free: 800-473-4636. Website: http://www.parkinson.org (accessed March 6, 2016).
Parkinson's Disease Foundation. 1359 Broadway, Suite 1509, New York, NY 10018. Telephone: 212-923-4700. Website: http://www.pdf.org (accessed March 6, 2016).
* brain stem is the portion of the brain that connects the brain to the spinal cord. It also controls involuntary muscle movement, regulates essential bodily functions such as breathing and heart rate, and relays messages between the body and the brain.
* hallucination occurs when a person believes he or she is seeing something that is not in reality present or happening.
* delusion a false belief that is firmly held despite evidence to the contrary.
* genes (JEENS) are chemical structures composed of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) that help determine a person's body structure and physical characteristics such as hair or eye color. Inherited from a person's parents, genes are contained in the chromosomes found in the body's cells.