YOPN insights

A Glossary of YOPD Terms

10/07/2022 2:00 PM | Anonymous

"Sometimes a simple definition can make all the difference."

Being diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease is overwhelming. New patients tend to have a million thoughts racing through their minds after hearing the news, and not uncommonly do they experience feelings of helplessness or fear.

However, one thing that helps us feel more in control again is being able to define and label the unknowns, which makes them less frightening than we initially thought.

If you or a loved one has recently been diagnosed with YOPD, we hope that this glossary of common terms helps you to both understand the condition better and reduce any anxiety you might be feeling.

AkinesiaInability to move or issues with initiating and/or maintaining a physical body motion.

AtaxiaA movement disorder characterized by decreased muscle coordination and loss of balance during voluntary movements. 

BradykinesiaThe slowing down and loss of spontaneous, voluntary movement.

Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS)A surgical procedure in which a device similar to a heart pacemaker is implanted in the brain and used to deliver electrical stimulation to areas that control movement, blocking the abnormal nerve signals that cause tremors and other PD symptoms. This procedure is currently used for patients whose symptoms are not satisfactorily controlled by medications.

DisequilibriumIssues with balance or unsteadiness; a common experience in those with YOPD.

DopamineA neurotransmitter that helps control movement, walking, and balance. The primary cause of PD patients’ motor symptoms is lack of dopamine.

Dopamine Agonist-  A type of drug that binds to dopamine receptors and mimics their role in the brain to produce dopamine-like effects.

DysarthriaSlurred or impaired speech; a common characteristic of Parkinson's disease.

DyskinesiaFrequent uncontrollable and involuntary movements that are a common side effect of levodopa treatment. These movements are often characterized by jerky and lurching motions.

DysphagiaDifficulty swallowing. Can be painful for those experiencing it.

DystoniaA movement disorder characterized by abnormal posture and sustained hand or foot movement, and can also be accompanied by twisting and rigidity. Dystonia is often confused with Parkinson’s disease.

Facial maskingWhen the face is immobile with reduced blinking.

Familial Parkinson's DiseaseA form of Parkinson’s disease (that may account for less than 5% of worldwide cases) in which it is believed the condition may run in families and be passed on through genetics.

FestinationA spontaneous shuffling or quickening of steps after starting to walk.

FreezingSudden inability to move that often happens when beginning to walk or cross a boundary such as walking through a doorway or exiting a car.

HypokinesiaA term used to describe the slow or diminished movement associated with Parkinson’s disease.

LevodopaAlso called L-dopa, the most common drug used to treat Parkinson's symptoms that works by restoring the dopamine responsible for smooth, coordinated movement and other functions.

Lewy bodiesIrregular clumps of protein that indicate the deaths of dopamine-producing cells. The presence of Lewy bodies is used to confirm a Parkinson’s diagnosis during autopsy.

MicrographiaSmall, cramped handwriting. A common symptom among Parkinson’s patients.

NeurodegenerationThe slow, progressive death of certain brain systems observed in Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and Lou Gehrig’s (ALS) diseases.

Olfactory dysfunctionImpaired ability to smell. Can be an early sign of Parkinson’s disease.

On-Off phenomenonThe cyclical pattern in which patients on Parkinson’s medications can function adequately at times, but then become too stiff or immobile to function at others.

ParkinA gene whose mutations have been associated with a familial form of Parkinson’s disease.

Pill-rollingA slow tremor observed in Parkinson’s patients in which they alternate moving their thumb and forefinger, appearing as if they’re rolling a small object between them.

Resting tremorAn involuntary movement that affects a limb at rest and will stop for the duration of a voluntary movement. This is one of the most common clinical signs of Parkinson’s disease.

RigidityAn unusual amount of stiffness in a limb or other part of the body. Rigidity is often one of the most apparent symptoms of Parkinson’s disease when patients undergo examination.

SinemetThe brand name for levodopa, one of the most commonly prescribed medications used for treating Parkinson’s.

While labeling and defining terms like these can help a little, joining a supportive community can help a lot. YOPN members have access to a wide range of resources, activities, and opportunities that allow them to continue living well despite the diagnosis. Visit https://yopnetwork.org/Join to learn more or sign up.


Source: Michael J. Fox Foundation. Glossary of Terms. https://www.michaeljfox.org/glossary-terms (accessed September 12, 2022).


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