News Media Resources Publications Inside Penn Medicine Contact Us for Experts  
  System News | HUPdate | PresbyBulletin | What's New at PAH | Browse Archives  

April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month

Please join the Penn Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Center (PD&MDC) at PAH as we recognize April as Parkinson’s Awareness month. Stop by the Elm Garden Café every Friday in April, from 12 pm to 2 pm to learn about Parkinson’s disease and how you can help.


Shown here from left to right are, volunteer Ann Connor, Outreach Coordinator Candace Syres, and Volunteers Lillian Wright, Charles Maddock and Elizabeth Martin. 

Did you know?
The PD&MDC was established in 1982, at The Graduate Hospital (now Penn Medicine Rittenhouse at 18th and Lombard Streets) by Howard I. Hurtig, MD, chief of Neurology at PAH, co-director of the PD&MDC, and Elliott Professor of Neurology in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and Matthew B. Stern, MD, director of the PD&MDC and the Parker Family Professor of Neurology in the Perelman School of Medicine. Together, Doctors Hurtig and Stern wanted to provide comprehensive care to patients with Parkinson’s disease and other parkinsonian syndromes and movement disorders such as dystonia, Tourette’s syndrome and Huntington’s disease. The Center moved in 1997, to its current location on PAH’s campus at 330 South Ninth Street. 

Combined, the PD&MDC and Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research at the University of Pennsylvania is a Morris K. Udall Parkinson’s Disease Research Center of Excellence designated by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), joining 12 other distinguished academic institutions in the US with this designation. Clinical and basic research scientists at the Penn Udall Center are conducting research to understand and develop better treatments for the cognitive impairment and dementia associated with Parkinson’s disease. Penn is the only national Udall Center to focus specifically on cognitive functions in Parkinson’s.

Since its inception, the PD&MDC has grown into one of the dominant clinical programs of its kind in the nation, equally committed to research, professional and community education, and psycho-social support for patients and families. Recognized by the National Parkinson Foundation as one of its 45 worldwide Centers of Excellence, the PD&MDC is one of the largest of its kind in the country and is pre-eminent in the Philadelphia region, providing care to approximately 2,000 patients each year. The PD&MDC partners with the Philadelphia Veteran’s Administration Medical Center as one of only six Parkinson’s Disease Research, Education and Clinical Centers (PADRECC) in the US. The Philadelphia PADRECC offers the same exceptional Parkinson’s care to veterans, as well as opportunities to participate in clinical trials and other research initiatives.

What is Parkinson’s disease?
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a chronic and progressive movement disorder that involves the malfunction and death of nerve cells in the brain. Some of these dying nerve cells produce dopamine, a chemical that sends messages to the part of the brain that controls movement and coordination. As Parkinson’s progresses, the amount of dopamine produced in the brain decreases, leaving a person unable to control movement normally.

How many people have PD?
As many as one million Americans and an estimated seven to 10 million people worldwide are living with PD. 60,000 people in the US are diagnosed every year. While the average age of onset is 60 years old, some people – such as actor Michael J. Fox – are diagnosed under the age of 40.

How is PD diagnosed?
There is no standard test to conclusively determine a PD diagnosis. The disease should be diagnosed by a neurologist with experience and training in assessing and treating PD. As knowledge about PD is growing, researchers are making advances in understanding the disease, its causes and how to best treat it.

What are the symptoms of PD?

Key motor symptoms:

  • Tremor                        
  • Slowness of movement (bradykinesia)
  • Muscular rigidity or stiffness
  • Postural instability (impaired balance and coordination)

Other non-motor symptoms may include:

  • Depression
  • Cognitive changes
  • Loss of smell
  • Dementia or confusion
  • Sleep disturbances

How is PD treated?

Although there is currently no cure for PD. Symptoms are managed with medications, rehabilitation therapies and surgery.

For more information please visit:


Do you want to keep up with all the latest news stories about Penn Medicine?

Subscribe to Penn Medicine In the News daily emails! Click here to sign up online if you're not yet receiving one of our email editions.

Or, if you've received an email edition recently, use the "update your preferences" link at the bottom of the email or contact us to subscribe.

Do you volunteer your time or provide supplies to help those in need?

We're always looking for great story ideas!

Click here to send your stories, ideas, and photos to us online now, or email them to!

Make it count! Help us keep track of all of Penn Medicine's community outreach activities by filling out the Penn Medicine CAREs reporting form. No contribution is too small to report. Visit

Browse More Stories Inside Penn Medicine


About Penn Medicine   Contact Us   Site Map   Privacy Statement   Legal Disclaimer   Terms of Use

Penn Medicine , Philadelphia, PA 1-800-789-PENN © 2011, The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania