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Substantial Matters: Life & Science of Parkinson’s

Oct 4, 2022

This episode explores parkinsonism, a group of conditions with symptoms similar to those of Parkinson’s disease, itself a neurological degenerative brain disorder resulting from neurons in the brain failing to make enough dopamine. It is characterized by a loss of motor control, including stiffness, slow movements, resting tremors, and postural instability. Plus, non-motor symptoms of depression, loss of the sense of smell, gastric problems, mood and cognitive changes are common.


Parkinsonism is a general term for a group of neurological conditions involving movement problems similar to those seen in Parkinson’s disease. A variety of underlying causes may lead to parkinsonism, including medications that affect dopamine levels in the brain or the action of dopamine in the brain. Examples are antipsychotic medications used in psychiatry, calcium channel blockers for blood pressure control, and stimulants like amphetamines and cocaine. Even though stopping the medications may result in them being cleared from the body in the near term, symptoms may persist for several months. 


In this episode, Cheryl Waters, MD, Professor of Neurology at Columbia University in New York City, discusses medication-induced parkinsonism and what people with Parkinson’s and doctors need to be aware of.