For support and further information, please contact your regional branch of Parkinson's New Zealand

Parkinson's New Zealand
Freephone: 0800 473 4636

Parkinson’s New Zealand provides support and information to people with Parkinson’s, their carers, families and health professionals. We provide help in a variety of ways:

Divisions and Field Officers Parkinson’s New Zealand has 20 divisions nationwide, as well as a National Office. Each division provides one or more Field Officers who are trained to help you and your family with your Parkinson’s journey. They can provide support, information and advocacy through home visits or telephone calls. Field Officers and divisions can also provide services to your carers and families, and can meet with your family to answer any questions. Divisions also hold meetings, activities and education seminars for people with Parkinson’s and their carer’s. For more information about your local division and membership see the divisions page.

UPBEAT UPBEAT is the special interest group for people with early-onset Parkinson’s. Many divisions have UPBEAT meetings, and National Office provides a yearly Outward Bound experience available to members of UPBEAT, and an 18 monthly UPBEAT Weekend.

Publications - Parkinson’s New Zealand produces publications on a range of Parkinson’s subjects. We have information factsheets, pamphlets and booklets, as well as a quarterly newsletter The Parkinsonian, UPBEAT newsletters and this website.

What is Parkinson's Disease?

Parkinson's disease (PD) belongs to a group of conditions called motor system disorders, which are the result of the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells. The four primary symptoms of PD are tremor, or trembling in hands, arms, legs, jaw, and face; rigidity, or stiffness of the limbs and trunk; bradykinesia, or slowness of movement; and postural instability, or impaired balance and coordination. As these symptoms become more pronounced, patients may have difficulty walking, talking, or completing other simple tasks. 

PD usually affects people over the age of 50.  Early symptoms of PD are subtle and occur gradually.  In some people the disease progresses more quickly than in others.  As the disease progresses, the shaking, or tremor, which affects the majority of PD patients may begin to interfere with daily activities.  Other symptoms may include depression and other emotional changes; difficulty in swallowing, chewing, and speaking; urinary problems or constipation; skin problems; and sleep disruptions.  

There are currently no blood or laboratory tests that have been proven to help in diagnosing sporadic PD.  Therefore the diagnosis is based on medical history and a neurological examination.  The disease can be difficult to diagnose accurately.   Doctors may sometimes request brain scans or laboratory tests in order to rule out other diseases.

Is there any treatment?

At present, there is no cure for PD, but a variety of medications provide dramatic relief from the symptoms.  Usually, patients are given levodopa combined with carbidopa.  Carbidopa delays the conversion of levodopa into dopamine until it reaches the brain.  Nerve cells can use levodopa to make dopamine and replenish the brain's dwindling supply.  Although levodopa helps at least three-quarters of parkinsonian cases, not all symptoms respond equally to the drug. Bradykinesia and rigidity respond best, while tremor may be only marginally reduced. Problems with balance and other symptoms may not be alleviated at all.  Anticholinergics may help control tremor and rigidity.  Other drugs, such as bromocriptine, pramipexole, and ropinirole, mimic the role of dopamine in the brain, causing the neurons to react as they would to dopamine.  An antiviral drug, amantadine, also appears to reduce symptoms.  In May 2006, the FDA approved rasagiline to be used along with levodopa for patients with advanced PD or as a single-drug treatment for early PD. 

In some cases, surgery may be appropriate if the disease doesn't respond to drugs. A therapy called deep brain stimulation (DBS) has now been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In DBS, electrodes are implanted into the brain and connected to a small electrical device called a pulse generator that can be externally programmed. DBS can reduce the need for levodopa and related drugs, which in turn decreases the involuntary movements called dyskinesias that are a common side effect of levodopa. It also helps to alleviate fluctuations of symptoms and to reduce tremors, slowness of movements, and gait problems. DBS requires careful programming of the stimulator device in order to work correctly.

Complementary and Alternative Treatments

Exercise Resources

AM/PM Yoga for Beginners -

Beginning Tai Chi with Patrick Martin -

Motivating Moves for people with Parkinson's -

Move It! An exercise and movement guide for Parkinson's Disease -

Parkinson's Disease and the Art of Moving -

Chronicle Books: The Stretch Deck and The Yoga Deck -

FitDeck: FitDeck Stretch, FitDeck Senior, FitDeck Resistance Tube, FitDeck Travel -

App "Parkinsons Home Exercise" - search on the AppStore from your smartphone.

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
9000 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD
Phone - +1 888 644 6226

What is the prognosis?

PD is both chronic, meaning it persists over a long period of time, and progressive, meaning its symptoms grow worse over time.  Although some people become severely disabled, others experience only minor motor disruptions. Tremor is the major symptom for some patients, while for others tremor is only a minor complaint and other symptoms are more troublesome.  No one can predict which symptoms will affect an individual patient, and the intensity of the symptoms also varies from person to person.

What research is being done?

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) conducts PD research in laboratories at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and also supports additional research through grants to major medical institutions across the country.  Current research programs funded by the NINDS are using animal models to study how the disease progresses and to develop new drug therapies. Scientists looking for the cause of PD continue to search for possible environmental factors, such as toxins, that may trigger the disorder, and study genetic factors to determine how defective genes play a role.  Other scientists are working to develop new protective drugs that can delay, prevent, or reverse the disease.

Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research
Grand Central Station, New York
Phone - +1 800 708 7644

Parkinson Research Foundation
5969 Cattleridge Boulevard, Sarasota, Florida
Email -
Phone - +1 941 870 4438

Science Daily

The material on this page “Disorders – Parkinson's” has been sourced from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

International Support Agencies

Parkinson's UK
215 Vauxhall Bridge Road, London, SW1V1EJ
Email -
Phone +44 (0) 808 800 0303

Parkinson's Association of Ireland
Carmichael House, North Brunswick Street, Dublin
Email -
Phone - +3531 800 359 359

American Parkinson's Disease Association
135 Parkinson Avenue, Staten Island, NY
Email -
Phone - +1 800 457 6676

American Parkinson Disease Association, National Young Onset Center
Central DuPage Hospital, 25 N. Winfield Road, Winfield, Illinois
Email -
Phone - +1 877 223 3801

APDA Rehab Resource Center at Boston University
College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences: Sargent College, 635 Commonwealth Avenue, 6th Floor, Boston, Massachusetts
Phone - +1 617 353 7525

Movers & Shakers Inc
880 Grand Rapids Boulevard, Naples, Florida
Phone - +1 239 919 8287

Muhammed Ali Parkinson Center & Movement Disorders
St Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center, 240 West Thomas Road, Suite 301, Phoenix, Arizona
Phone - +1 800 227 7691

National Parkinson Foundation
1501 NW 9th Avenue/Bob Hope Road, Miami, Florida
Email -
Phone - +1 800 473 4636

Parkinson's Disease Foundation
1359 Broadway, Suite 1509, New York
Phone - +1 800 457 6676

Parkinson's Resource Organization
74-090 El Paseo Suite 104, Palm Desert, California
Phone - +1 877 775 4111

Parkinson's Society Canada
4211 Yonge Street, Suite 316, Toronto, Ontario
Email -
Phone - +1 800 565 3000

Parkinson's Australia
P O Box 717, Mawson, ACT
Email -
Phone - +61 0407 703 328

European Parkinson's Disease Association
1 Northumberland Avenue, Trafalgar Square, London
Email -
Phone - +44 (0) 207 872 5510

Parkinson's Voices

World Parkinson Disease Association
via Zuretti 35, 20135, Milano, Italy
Email -
Phone - +39 0266 713 111

For more information on what services are available to you please see our "Things you should know about" page which includes the following: