Parkinsonsecrets.com and Parkinsonbreakthrough.com blogs are the Official Website for the books:  Parkinson's Treatment: 10 Secrets to a Happier Life and 10 Breakthrough Therapies for Parkinson's Disease.

Dr. Okun is the co-founder of the University of Florida Center for Movement Disorders and Neurorestoration, the National Medical Director for the National Parkinson Foundation, as well as the author of several books including Ask the Expert about Parkinson's Disease, Lessons from the Bedside, 10 Breakthrough Therapies for Parkinson's Disease and Parkinson's Treatment: 10 Secrets to a Happier life due out in 2013.  His secrets book was translated into 20 languages so that it can be made available to Parkinson's disease sufferers around the world.  Dr. Okun has been recently been honored at the White House as a Champion of Change for Parkinson's Disease. Dr. Okun has been published in journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine and people travel from around the world to seek his opinion on best treatment approaches for this disease.

Parkinson's Should Not be Confused with Alzheimer's, Lou Gehrig's Disease or Brain Tumors

Since the majority of people worldwide believe that Parkinson’s disease is a form of Alzheimer’s, this is a good indication that we in the medical community have not done enough to disassemble this misconception.  I find this troubling.  It does not matter whether I am lecturing in Sioux Falls, Buenos Aries, London, Istanbul, Bejing, Tokyo or many other patient and research venues.  The misconception about Parkinson’s being the same as or as bad as Alzheimer’s, exists everywhere.   

A deeper look may provide some insight into the misperception.    Both diseases are degenerative brain problems.  Both result in the death of brain cells.  Both transform general appearances, including facial expressions.  Both have a visible and serious impact on the family, and society. Both result in the loss of billions in wages, and in running up health care expenditures for all tax-paying citizens.  Finally, both diseases have the potential to cloud memories, and to transform personalities. How many times have I heard from a spouse the statement, “he is just not the same man I married.”  Given the similarities it is understandable that people equate Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, and even use common adjectives when describing both - devastating, untreatable, and indignant. 

Therefore, given the background of the public’s perception, it is critical to make sure, as doctor-mentors and mentor-educators, that people understand Parkinson’s disease is not Alzheimer’s disease.  Teaching families to recognize and appreciate the differences, will empower them and will kindle hopeful thoughts.  Additionally Parkinson's disease should not be confused with Lou Gehrig's disease or with brain tumors.

Common motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include:

Tremor (not present in 20% of cases)

Stiffness (rigidity)

Slowness (bradykinesia)

Gait and balance issues

Small handwriting (micrographia)

Common non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include:

Depression, anxiety, and mood disorders

Apathy

Psychosis (illusions and hallucinations)

Cognitive dysfunction (thinking problems)

Autonomic dysfunction (low blood pressure when standing, gastrointestinal problems, constipation, sweating, urinary issues, sexual dysfunction)

Sleep disturbances