Parkinson's Disease

Original Editor - Bhanu Ramaswamy as part of the APPDE Project

Top Contributors - Rachael Lowe, Laura Ritchie, Wendy Walker, Naomi O'Reilly and Bhanu Ramaswamy   

About Parkinsons

Parkinson’s or Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a progressive neurodegenerative condition.

Other neurodegenerative disorders include Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

James Parkinson first described the disorder in his 1817 Essay on the Shaking Palsy. An estimated seven to 10 million people worldwide are living with Parkinson's.

Related pages in Physiopedia

Parkinson’s creates complexities for health and social staff helping individuals and those affected by it (carers, family members, friends) manage the condition due to the varied combinations of motor (movement) and non-motor symptoms presented throughout the course of the condition.

Parkinson’s cannot yet be cured although a lot of financial and other resources are being expended on research to find a cure.
Parkinson’s most often occurs after the age of 50 and is one of the most common nervous system disorders of the ageing populations. The condition is caused by the slow deterioration of the nerve cells in the brain, which create dopamine. Dopamine is a natural substance found in the brain that plays a major role in our brains and bodies by messaging, and therefore communicating across various systems.

Some non-motor aspects (sleep problems, low mood, constipation and loss of sense of smell) occur several years prior to observable motor symptoms develop. Physiotherapists are most often involved in the mid stages of the condition, once balance and mobility become affected, but it can be helpful if they can assess and advise people soon after diagnosis in order to maintain activity and prevent problems.


Information about Parkinson’s can be found on the following websites:


UK =

Europe =

European Parkinson’s Disease Association

The European Parkinson’s Disease Association (EPDA) is a European Parkinson's umbrella organisation. They represent 45 member organisations and advocate for the rights and needs of more than 1.2 million people with Parkinson’s and their families.

The EPDA vision is to enable all people with Parkinson's in Europe to live a full life while supporting the search for a cure.

The group launched the European Parkinson’s Disease Standards of care Consensus Statement in the European Parliament in November 2011. The document defines what the optimal management of Parkinson’s should be and what good-quality care should consist of. The document is not only developed by experts in the field of Parkinson’s but includes the voice of people with Parkinson’s. In addition to this, they have produced some amazing resources to introduce people to the condition.


Parkinson's UK

The Parkinson’s UK website hosts a lot of information about Parkinson's and management of the condition. Local support groups are also available through Parkinson's UK and are an excellent resource available to persons with Parkinson's Disease and Parkinsonism. Often exercise groups are also provided through these groups.


Move4Parkinson’s was set up by Margaret Mullarney who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2004. The site is dedicated to educating, empowering and inspiring People with Parkinson’s and their families or carers (Parkinson’s communities) to gain the knowledge and skills they need to improve their Quality of Life. Margaret recommends the Five Elements Framework based on her personal experience:

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National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) provides a list of American based organisations:


Viartis is an independent, non-commercial and self funded medical researchers specialising in Parkinson's. Viartis are not part of any other company, university or organisation, and have no religious or political allegiances. They choose articles solely on the basis of their medical significance or potential interest, and you can register to receive information free of charge. The site provides links to a range of international organisations.

Parkinsons Conference, 2009

In September 2009, SPRING (the research interest group of the Parkinson’s Disease Society) hosted a conference on the effect of exercise on Parkinson’s. Bhanu Ramaswamy, was part of the organising committee with her AGILE / ACPIN Parkinson’s Project Officer hat on, alongside Vicki Goodwin, who was also invited to speak on her research. The conference explored known aspects plus issues yet to be discovered about the benefits of exercise for people with Parkinson's. Contributions were from invited participants from across the world in the hope of enabling proposals for new research collaboration to promote exercise as an essential component of therapy for Parkinson's.

General conference information can be accessed through the website:

Below are videos of the two keynote presentations from the conference:



  1. EPDA. Parkinson's disease - an overview - pt 1. Available from: [last accessed 29/09/16]
  2. Professor Alice Nieuwboer c/o SPRING (Parkinson's UK). Exercise for Parkinson’s disease: the evidence under scrutiny. Available from: [last accessed 29/09/16]
  3. Professor Michael Zigmond c/o SPRING (Parkinson's UK). Exercise and Parkinson’s disease: evidence for efficacy from cellular and animal studies. Available from: [last accessed 29/09/16]