facebookinstagramtwitter pinterest youtube

MPF Gala 2021MPF Gala 2021

MPF Resources

Products Available Through MPF

  • Brochures:
    • Michigan Parkinson Foundation
    • Facts about Parkinson's
    • Michigan Parkinson Foundation Support Groups
  • Critical Information form (to be used by people who are entering a hospital or other care facility). You complete the form by writing information that would be helpful for those providing care for you.
  • Physician Prescription Form: for physician to refer you to Michigan Parkinson Foundation programs.
  • Tee Shirts (with MPF insignia)
  • Disability Information
  • Books:
    • "My Nunna Has Parkinson's"
      by Antionette Talbot (⇐ click to purchase) Overview: A young child notices his Nunna's withdrawing from many of the activites they did together. She will no longer play or read books to the child. Concerned, the child questions the mother who explains that Nunna has Parkinson's Disease, what it is and what it does to Nunna. It shows the child that one can combat the effects of Parkinson's and live a fullfilled life.
  • Videos:
    • "In Their Own Words (⇐ click to purchase) Produced and directed by Kathy Vander for the Michigan Parkinson Foundation, funded in part by the Michigan Department of Community Health. Professionally produced, narrated by Rich Fisher, Half hour program featuring Michigan residents with Parkinson's disease who describe their hopes, challenges and ways to overcome living with a Chronic disease.

Research Websites

Neurology Referral List

Neurology Referral List for MPF 

Resource Websites


  • Parkinson Foundation
    Miami Office:
    200 SE 1st Street
    Suite 800
    Miami, FL 33131
    New York Office:
    1359 Broadway
    Suite 1509
    New York, NY 10018
  • American Parkinson Disease Foundation (APDA)
    1250 Hylan Boulevard, Suite 4B
    Staten Island, New York 10305-1946
  • Parkinson's Society of Canada
    4211 Yonge Street Suite 316
    North York, ON M2P 2A9, Canada
    (416) 227-9700, (800) 565-3000
  • International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society
    555 East Wells Street, Suite 1100
    Milwaukee, WI 53202-3823 USA
    (414) 276-2145




  • APDA Young Parkinson's Information and Referral Center
    UnityPoint Health in Des Moines
    Medical Director: Dr. Lynn K. Struck
    Call: 877-872-6386
    Email: apdaiowa@apdaparkinson.org
    Address: 1200 Pleasant St., E-524, Des Moines, IA 50309


  • CurePSP (Foundation for PSP, CBD and Related Disorders)
    30 E. Padonia Road, Suite 201
    Timonium, MD 21093
    Toll free: 800-457-4777
    E-mail: info@curepsp.org



Huntington's Disease Society of America, Michigan Chapter
Deb Boyd - Regional Development Manager
P.O. Box 72
Richland, MI 49083
p. (269) 629-5452
f. (269) 629-4205
800-345-HDSA (Helpline) 212-242-1968 (National Office)

What is Parkinson's Disease?

Parkinson's Disease (PD) belongs to a group of conditions called motor system disorders. It is a neurodegenerative disease which is the most common cause of parkinsonism, or the akinetic-rigid syndrome.

There are many causes of parkinsonism, and although there is a specific pathology under the microscope associated with Parkinson's disease, its cause appears to involve multiple factors and there may in fact be more than one cause or etiology.

Parkinson's disease is recognized by the presence of at least three of four cardinal signs:

  • resting tremor,
  • cogwheel rigidity,
  • bradykinesia/akinesia, and
  • postural reflex impairment.

Parkinson's disease affects at approximately 1.5 million people in the United States. Although Parkinson's disease most commonly affects people over age 60, it can occur as early as age 20.

The basic problem in Parkinson's disease is loss of dopamine-producing nerve cells in a region of the brain called the substantia nigra pars compacta. The loss of the dopamine these cells release in a region of the brain called the striatum produces the symptoms of the akinetic-rigid syndrome. Everybody has a gradual loss of these dopamine-producing nerve cells as they age, but patients with Parkinson's disease have lost more of them than other people. Why these cells die in Parkinson's disease is unclear, and the focus of much research. Studies of identical twins show that most Parkinson's disease is not inherited, and epidemiological studies support a multifactorial model in which both genetic and environmental factors play a role. Familial forms of Parkinson's disease are known but are uncommon and atypical, most often presenting at an earlier age.

The other causes of parkinsonism, or the akinetic-rigid syndrome, include other neurodegenerative diseases besides typical Parkinson's disease, such as the Parkinson's Plus diseases, familial forms of Parkinson's disease, Wilson's disease and Huntington's disease in children (these diseases cause different symptoms in adults), poisons including carbon monoxide, manganese and MPTP (a rare contaminant in synthetic drugs of abuse, i.e. "designer drugs"), injuries to the basal ganglia including strokes ("vasculogenic Parkinson's"), acute or chronic ("pugilistic Parkinson's") head trauma, post-encephalitic (Von Economo's disease) and drug-induced parkinsonism.

The risk factors for Parkinsonism are increasing age (especially after age 60), family history (particularly of early onset Parkinsonism), and a rural as opposed to an urban environment. The occurrence of Parkinson's disease is thought to vary with race, but recent studies show that in the U.S.A. the incidence in African-American men and women and in Asian-American men is similar to the incidence in Americans of European origin.

How is Parkinson' Disease Diagnosed?

There are currently no blood, laboratory or radiological tests to diagnose Parkinson's disease (PD). In early Parkinson's, the symptoms are often vague, such as minor tremor in a hand, a change in handwriting, pain in the neck or back, or occasional stumbling. The physician may need to observe the person over time prior to making an accurate diagnosis. Generally, when two of the four cardinal signs occur (tremor at rest, bradykinesia, rigidity or problems with balance), a diagnosis may be made and treatment initiated.

Contributed by:

Edwin B. George, MD, Ph.D., Wayne State University School of Medicine. Chairman, Michigan Parkinson Foundation Board of Directors, Member MPF Board of Directors, and Past Chairman.

Young - Onset Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson's disease (PD) is typically thought to be a disorder of the elderly. The average age of onset for Parkinson's disease (PD) is approximately 58 years in the U.S. and elsewhere. However, the first symptoms (such as tremor, slowed movement, or decreased dexterity) can arise much earlier in life; some cases of PD have clearly developed up to three decades earlier than its typical age of onset. Most estimates indicate that no more than 5-10% of PD cases begin under the age of fifty. When patients develop PD in this age range (sometimes as early as in their twenties or thirties), this is generally referred to as "young-onset PD". Though distinguished by its age of onset, this disorder appears in most respects to be identical to PD beginning at an older age. The clinical features and response to medications do not differentiate it from development of PD in the elderly. The loss of nerve cell generating dopamine in the brain is the same for both younger- and older-onset PD. There are some differentiating characteristics, however. PD beginning under the age of 50 has less of a tendency to develop concomitant cognitive impairments or dementia than when the disorder begins in older years. There may be an increased tendency for the chronic use of levodopa to result in involuntary movements (dyskinesias) in the young-onset patient.

The disabilities of young-onset PD differ from problems experienced from the same disorder beginning later in life. The impact of young-onset PD affects a patient's livelihood, family roles, friendships, and enjoyment of life in sometimes a more extreme manner than for an older person, who might be retired from work and unburdened with young children. It is obvious from discussions at support groups involving young-onset patients that their daily struggle with PD is often quite different from that experienced by older subjects. Sometimes the need for a patient to inform his or her young children, employers, and peers about this uncommon occurrence of PD is very challenging. Even for patients affected with relatively mild forms of it, PD has the "persona" of exaggerated aging and physical deterioration. As a result, sometimes work or other activities are unfairly restricted as a result. The tremors often associated with PD can be misinterpreted by others as either anxiety or physical frailty. Difficulties that PD can cause for the ease of communication by voice or handwriting can only add to the "cosmetic" stigma of PD.

Fortunately, the same drugs and other treatment options useful in older patients can be highly effective in young-onset PD. Those making use of medications needs to give consideration to the risk for long-term outcomes such as dyskinesias. For this reason, many clinicians believe that levodopa use should either be restricted (if possible) or that a dopaminergic agonist be used together with it. Young-onset PD has an increased risk to be a hereditary disorder. If other first-order family members are also affected with young-onset PD, a search for the very rare genetically mediated forms of PD may be warranted. A young onset of PD also calls for a careful investigation of possible alternative diagnoses. Since several conditions can mimic PD, a thorough examination by a neurological specialist is warranted. This evaluation sometimes uses testing such as an MRI scan of the brain to make a correct diagnosis. Fortunately, most persons even at a young age with Parkinsonism have nothing more than PD. Since many (if not most) people with PD continue to respond well to medications over long periods of time, this disorder is generally deserving of reassurance to the patient from the treating physician.

Peter A. LeWitt, M.D.
Director, Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders Program, Henry Ford Hospital
Professor of Neurology, Wayne State University School of Medicine
President, Board of Directors, MPF.
Member and Past Chairman, Professional Advisory Board. 

Check out our Young Onset Support Groups.

Our Location

30400 Telegraph Road, Suite 150
Bingham Farms, MI 48025

Mon-Fri: 8:30am - 5:00pm

Contact Us

(248) 433-1011
Toll Free: (800) 852-9781
Contact Us


Our Partners

World Parkinson Coalition

Alliance of Independent Regional Parkinson Organizations

Better Business Bureau