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Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders Center

Diagnosing Parkinson's Disease

How a Diagnosis is Made

One of several neurologic movement disorders is Parkinson's disease t that produces similar symptoms.

It is essential that the physician you are considering has knowledge with all of the different disorders so that can masquerade as Parkinson's disease.

In some of these diseases people immediately become totally disabled; in others, the disease progresses very slowly; and in yet others, illness is chronic (always present) and may have more rigorous symptoms as time goes on. Because the natural history, or progression, of these diseases varies to a great extent, proper diagnosis is crucial. People need to recognize which disease they have.

The Neurologic Examination

When performing a neurologic test to evaluate a patient with a movement disorder, the doctor takes a medical history and performs a physical assessment. The doctor enquire the patient and the family members or friends concerning symptoms and observes the patient, asking him or her to walk around the room, stand up, sit down, turn around, and so on.

The neurologic exam is a thorough assessment of the nervous system. In particular, the neurologist will notice the aspects of the patient's movement, coordination and balance.

Diagnostic Tests

Unluckily, there is no diagnostic test that can confirm Parkinson's disease. Laboratory testing of the blood of patients with the symptoms typical of Parkinson's only hardly ever uncovers any abnormality.

Electroencephalograms (EEGs) record few aspects of brain electrical activity, but they are not much effective in spotting Parkinson's.

The MRI and CAT scans of the brain create remarkable and beautiful anatomic pictures.

The MRI and CAT will scans of the brain of people with Parkinson's disease appear normal and the brain of people with Parkinson's disease appears normal.

The brain changes that generate neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's are microscopic, on a chemical level, and are not discovered by these scans.

With no diagnostic tests to provide definite answers, physicians must base their diagnosis of Parkinson's on judgment. Physicians are personally familiar with the characteristic history and the signs and symptoms found when investigative a person with Parkinson's.

They then have to judge how closely the history of symptoms as well as the neurologic findings (from the physical examination) of any definite person matches those of typical Parkinson's disease. This determination through the judgment of the doctor (the clinician) is known as a clinical diagnosis.





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