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Parkinson's disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that affects the dopamine-producing neurons in the brain. This lack of dopamine leads to the characteristic motor symptoms of Parkinson's, such as tremors, rigidity, slowness of movement (bradykinesis), and postural instability.


The Hoehn and Yahr staging system is a commonly used method for classifying the severity of Parkinson's disease. There are five stages in the Hoehn and Yahr scale, ranging from mild to severe:


Stage 1:

  • Unilateral symptoms: Symptoms are only present on one side of the body.

  • Mild tremor: Tremor may be present at rest, but it does not interfere with daily activities.

  • Normal posture and balance: Posture and balance are not affected.

Stage 2:

Bilateral symptoms: Symptoms are present on both sides of the body, although one side may be more affected than the other.
Mild rigidity and bradykinesis: Rigidity and slowness of movement may be present, but they do not significantly interfere with daily activities.
Postural changes: Posture may be slightly stooped, and balance may be slightly impaired.

Stage 3:

Moderate symptoms: Symptoms are more severe and can interfere with daily activities.
Tremor, rigidity, and bradykinesis: Tremor, rigidity, and slowness of movement are more pronounced and can make daily activities difficult.
Balance problems: Balance is impaired, and there is an increased risk of falls.

Stage 4:

Severe symptoms: Symptoms are severe and require assistance with daily activities.
Difficulty walking: Walking is difficult and may require a walker or cane.
Freezing: Freezing episodes, in which the person becomes momentarily unable to move, may occur.
Speech changes: Speech may become soft or slurred.

Stage 5:

Advanced symptoms: Symptoms are very severe, and the person is bedridden or wheelchair-dependent.
Dementia: Dementia may develop in the later stages of Parkinson's disease.

It is important to note that the progression of Parkinson's disease varies from person to person. Some people may progress through the stages quickly, while others may stay in the same stage for many years. There is no cure for Parkinson's disease, but there are treatments available to manage the symptoms and improve quality of life.

Michael J. Fox

“In the quest to cure Parkinson’s, we’re absolutely certain we are the tip of the spear.”

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Muhammad Ali

“If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it—then I can achieve it.”

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The Parkinson's Foundation

The Parkinson’s Foundation makes life better for people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) by improving care and advancing research toward a cure. In everything we do, we build on the energy, experience and passion of our global Parkinson’s community.

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The Michael J. Fox Foundation

The Michael J. Fox Foundation is dedicated to finding a cure for Parkinson's disease through an aggressively funded research agenda and to ensuring the development of improved therapies for those living with Parkinson's today.

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The Caretology Foundation 

We care deeply about the community and have taken leadership roles in community collaboration and student growth and development to build the capacity of local nonprofits and communities and support the next generation of student innovators. 

Parkinson's Care Management Tools and Resources

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