Parkinson's Disease Service

What is Parkinson's Disease?

Parkinson's disease is a progressively degenerative neurological disorder which affects the control of body movements.

Symptoms result from the progressive degeneration of neuronal cells located in the substantia nigra. This causes a deficiency in the availability of dopamine; a chemical neurotransmitter (messenger) necessary for the production of smooth controlled movements.

The symptoms of Parkinson's disease appear when about 70% of dopamine producing cells cease to function normally. Symptoms develop slowly and gradually progress over years, but are greatly helped by drug treatment.

The presentation of symptoms varies greatly between individuals diagnosed and no two people will be affected in the same way. The three symptoms used for diagnostic purposes are:

  • Tremor, (shaking, trembling) is the most well known symptom of PD, but is absent in one third of people when the condition is first diagnosed. Tremor usually begins in one hand and the spreads to the leg, before crossing to the other side. It may also be felt internally. Typically it is most noticeable at rest and when stressed or tired and disappears during movement and when asleep.
  • Rigidity or stiffness of the muscles is a very common early sign of PD whereby the muscles seem unable to relax and are tight, even at rest. You might feel that your muscles will not do what you want them to do. Rigidity may be experienced through the entire range of movement of a joint (called 'lead pipe rigidity') or just in parts (called 'cog-wheel rigidity).
  • Bradykinesia (slowness of movement) occurs because the brain is not able to control smooth and delicate movements. This leads to a lack of spontaneous activity e.g arm swing diminishes, fine motor coordination is reduced e.g. handwriting becomes smaller, and it may lead to freezing or periods of immobility

For more information visit the Parkinson's Disease Association of Australia, Parkinson's Australia

What is the Parkinson's Disease Service?

The Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders Service provides education, clinical support and care coordination for frequent users of the acute care sector with Parkinson's, Multiple Systems Atrophy, Progressive Supranuclear Palsy and Corticobasal Degeneration.

The Parkinson's Disease Clinical Nurse Consultant (CNC) reviews patients in the Geriatric and Neurological outpatient department at the Canberra Hospital and University of Canberra Health Clinics. Education for patients also occurs at the ward level as requested by the treating team.

The CNC also works closely with the Departments of Neurology and Geriatrics at Canberra Hospital. Clinical Care Coordinators provide support for those PD and MD clients who require care coordination, focusing on self management strategies, education and advance care planning.

Parkinson's Disease Service Flyer

Accessing the Service

You may be eligible to access the Parkinson's Service if you have a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease (PD), Multiple Systems Atrophy (MSA), Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP) or Corticobasal Degeneration (CBD)

Your primary health care provider will need to refer you to this service.

Chronic Care Program Information Sheet

Information For Clinicians

To refer a patient to the Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders Service please fill in the Referral Request Form below or refer via Community Health Intake

Chronic Care Program Referral Request Form

Useful Resources

The following is a list of websites and written resources for download that you might find useful:

Parkinson's Australia
GP Education Model
Parkinson's Victoria Publications
Parkinson's Passport Booklet
Contraindicated Medicines - Australia
Contraindicated Medicines - US
Contraindicated Medicines - including DBS

Contact Us

For more information on the Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders Service, please feel free to contact us.