Partial glossary of terms

From time to time people say, “what do you mean by …….”.  Below is a list of some of those words and their meanings.

Acetylcholine  – A chemical which acts as a neurotransmitter. An imbalance between dopamine and Acetylcholine results in some Parkinson’s disease symptoms.
Agonist – A drug which increases neurotransmitter activity by stimulating the dopamine receptors directly.
Akinesia (Acinesia)  – No movement.
Akinetic  – Lack of movement.
Anticolinergics  – Anti-Parkinson drugs that block the action of Acetylcholine, thereby rebalancing it in relation to dopamine and reducing rigidity and tremor; e.g., Artane, Cogentin.
Ataxia  – Loss of balance.
Athetosis  – Slow, involuntary movements of the hands and feet.
Atrophy  – Wasting, shrinkage.
Autonomic nervous system  – Basal ganglia  – Several large clusters of nerve cells deep in the brain below the cerebral hemispheres; crucial in coordinating motor commands. Include the striatum and the substantia nigra.
Bradykinesia  – Slowness of movement.
Bradyphrenia  – Slowness of thought processes.
Bromocriptine (Parlodel)  – A dopamine agonist and anti Parkinson drug.
Cat Scan  – Go to (http://www NULL.imaginis 
Central nervous system  – The brain and the spinal cord.
Cerebral perfusion – I think cerebral perfusion specifically refers to the blood flow to and in the brain which of course is how the oxygen is supplied.
Dopa decarboxylase  – An enzyme present in the body that converts levodopa to dopamine.
Dopa decarboxylase inhibitors – Anti-Parkinson drugs that block the enzyme dopa decarboxylase.
Dopamine  – A chemical substance, a neurotransmitter, found in the brain that regulates movement, balance, and walking. It is the substance that is lost in Parkinson’s Disease.
Dopaminergic  – A chemical that works like, or has the same effect as, dopamine.
Dyskinesia  – An involuntary movement including athetosis and chorea.
Dysphagia  – Difficulty in swallowing.
Dystonia  – A slow movement or extended spasm in a group of muscles.
Extrapyramidal system  – The system of nerve cells, nerve tracts and pathways that connects the cerebral cortex, basal ganglia, thalamus, cerebellum, reticular formation, and spinal neurons; it is concerned with the regulation of reflex movements such as balance and walking. The extrapyramidal system is damaged in Parkinson’s Disease.
Festination  – Short, shuffling steps; involuntary speeding up of the gait.
Freezing  – Temporary, involuntary inability to move.
Ganglion  – A cluster of nerve cells.
Hypertonic  – Abnormal tension of arteries or muscles.
Incontinence  – Involuntary voiding of the bladder or bowel.
Levodopa  – The single most effective anti-Parkinson drug which is changed into dopamine in the brain usually combined with carbidopa (a dopa decarboxylase inhibitor) as Sinemet.
Lewy body  – A pink-staining sphere, found in the bodies of dying cells, that is considered to be a marker for Parkinson’s disease.
Micrographia  – A change in handwriting with the script becoming smaller and more cramped.
Migraines  – Characterized by changes in blood pressure and constriction followed by dilation of blood vessels that supply the brain. In severe cases, called complex migraines, this can cause symptoms of stroke, just like a TIA (Transient Iskemic Attack).
Monoamine oxidase (MAO)  – An enzyme that breaks down dopamine. There are two types of MAO “A” and “B.” In Parkinson’s disease, it is beneficial to block the activity of MAO B.
Myoclonus  – Jerking, involuntary movements of the arms and legs. May occur normally during sleep.
Neurotransmitters  – Chemical substances that carry impulses from one nerve cell to another; found in the space (synapse) that separates the transmitting neuron’s terminal (axon) from the receiving neuron’s terminal (dendrite).
Nigral  – Of or referring to the substantia nigra.
On-off phenomena  – Abrupt changes in performance during the day caused by the taking effect or wearing off of anti-Parkinson drugs
Palsy  – Paralysis of a muscle or group of muscles.
Pergolide (Permax)  – An anti-Parkinson drug.
Pyramidal pathway  – A collection of nerve tracts that travel from the cerebral cortex through the pyramid of the medulla oblongata in the brainstem to the spinal cord. Within the pyramid of the medulla, fibers cross from one side of the brain to the opposite side of the spinal cord; the pyramidal pathway is intact in Parkinson’s disease.
Resting tremor  – A tremor of a limb that increases when the limb is at rest.
Rigidity  – Increased resistance to the passive movement of a limb.
Sinemet  – An anti-Parkinson drug.
Striatum  – Part of the basal ganglia, it is a large cluster of nerve cells, consisting of the caudate nucleus and the putamen, that controls movement, balance, and walking; the neurons of the striatum require dopamine to function.
Substantia nigra  – A small area of the brain containing a cluster of black-pigmented nerve cells that produce dopamine which is then transmitted to the striatum.
Synapse  – A tiny gap between the ends of nerve fibers across which nerve impulses pass from one neuron to another; at the synapse, an impulse causes the release of a neurotransmitter, which diffuses across the gap and triggers an electrical impulse in the next neuron.
TIA (Transient Iskemic Attack) – Minor stroke symptoms.
Tremor  – A rhythmical shaking of a limb, head, mouth, tongue, or other part of the body.