About Parkinson’s disease

Parkinson’s disease is a type of movement disorder. It occurs when changes in your brain affect the way you move.

A familiar sign of Parkinson’s disease is an uncontrollable shaking or movement, called a tremor.

Though more common among people over the age of 60, Parkinson’s disease can also develop in younger adults.

Symptoms and diagnosis

Recognizing signs of Parkinson’s disease

Parkinson’s disease causes several specific movement-related symptoms. These are called motor symptoms. Motor symptoms affect everyday tasks like buttoning clothing or writing. Motor symptoms can also affect the way you walk.

Motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include:

  • Muscle stiffness

  • Slow or small movements (bradykinesia)

  • Tremor

  • Balance problems

Parkinson’s disease can also cause non-motor symptoms. These include:

  • Bowel and bladder function changes

  • Blood pressure changes

  • Mood or memory changes

  • Sleep changes

Diagnosing Parkinson’s disease

There is no test for Parkinson’s disease. To make a diagnosis, your doctor will look for:

  • Physical signs and symptoms

  • Progression of symptoms over time

  • Response to treatment

Your doctor may order brain scans or blood tests to rule out other conditions with similar symptoms.


Treatments to put you in control

People with Parkinson’s disease have fewer dopamine-producing cells within their brains. Dopamine is a chemical that helps your brain to control movement.

Your Parkinson’s disease treatment will be designed to reduce symptoms and improve function.

Replacing dopamine with medication is one way to treat Parkinson’s disease.

Physical therapy is another essential part of your treatment plan. Exercises can improve your balance and walking.

Surgery for Parkinson’s disease

Some people with Parkinson’s disease benefit from surgery. At UW Health, we offer deep brain stimulation (DBS) for Parkinson’s disease.

During DBS, surgeons place an electrode in your brain. The electrode is connected to a device implanted in your chest. The device in your chest sends electrical stimulation to areas of your brain affected by movement disorders.

Parkinson’s disease research at UW Health

At UW Health, we work every day to improve the lives of people with Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders.

Meet our team

One team focused on you

Neurologists specialize in the care of conditions affecting the brain.

Your care will be guided by a UW Health neurologist within our Movement Disorders Clinic. Our Movement Disorders Clinic also includes:

  • Neurosurgeons

  • Neuropsychologists

  • Pharmacists

  • Social workers

  • Health psychologists

  • Physical, occupational and speech therapists

Our providers


Top-ranked neurological care

If you have symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, you’ll be cared for at the UW Health Movement Disorders Clinic. Here, we offer many treatment options for Parkinson’s disease, including deep brain stimulation.

Patient and support services

Moving you forward

Support groups

Connect with others in the area affected by Parkinson's disease.

Due to COVID-19, we are unable to hold the Moving Forward series in person but are now offering a virtual opportunity. UW Health staff will be there to facilitate and answer questions in addition to the subject matter expert who will be presenting.


The upcoming meeting for the Moving Forward Seminar Series will be online via Webex.

Meeting dates

Meetings will be held on the second Monday of every month, 6:30-8pm.

View more information

For anyone affected by Parkinson’s disease. Meets the fourth Wednesday of each month at 1:30 p.m. Stoughton Area Senior Center, 248 West Main St., Stoughton. For more information, call (608) 873-8585.

For anyone affected by Parkinson’s disease. Meets the fourth Tuesday of each month at 2 p.m. Waunakee Senior Center, 333 S. Madison St., Waunakee. For more information, call (608) 850-5877.

UW Health resources