Parkinson's

The Brain Centre at the University of Alberta Hospital will enable neurologists, neurosurgeons and researchers to provide advanced, coordinated care and bring hope to all patients with Parkinson’s and other movement disorders.

What is Parkinson's?

Parkinson’s is a movement disorder that’s chronic, progressive, and affects all areas of life. There are treatments and medications that have proven to be helpful in treating the symptoms of Parkinson’s - hand tremors, slowness of movement - but not for slowing the progression of the condition.

There are no known cures for Parkinson’s.

What causes Parkinson's?

Parkinson’s is caused when the brain loses neurons that produce the neurotransmitter dopamine. What researchers have yet to determine is why this happens - what causes the neurons that create dopamine to die off? Research has shown that genetics or exposure to toxins in the environment may play a role. Most likely it’s a combination of factors.

Who gets Parkinson's?

Roughly 300 per 100,000 Canadians have Parkinson’s. The ratio of men to women is about 60:40. The average age of onset is 55, but about 5-10% of Parkinson’s patients experience onset of symptoms before the age 40. The most notable example of this is the actor Michael J. Fox, who was diagnosed at age 28. 

Treatment options for Parkinson's

In addition to medication, the Movement Disorders Program at the world leading Kaye Edmonton Clinic provides advanced treatment options to Parkinson’s patients.

  • Deep Brain Stimulation - a nonsurgical treatment that sends small electric shocks to a specific part of the brain to block involuntary movements. Three to four outpatients per month receive this treatment.
  • Gamma Knife – a noninvasive procedure that produces a lesion on the overactive part of the brain and stops involuntary movements. This option will be available upon completion of the University Hospital Foundation’s goal to bring Gamma Knife technology to Edmonton.
  • Interdisciplinary approaches to care that include neurology, nursing, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, social work and psychiatry are gaining ground worldwide as the best way to provide care for Parkinson’s patients.

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