What is Parkinson’s disease? Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease that damages nerve cells in the brain that are responsible for smooth, controlled and coordinated body movements. Parkinson’s disease is a seriously disabling disorder that progressively damages and destroys a person’s ability to move normally and function independently. Parkinson’s disease is caused by loss or damage to the cells in a brain region that produce dopamine, a brain chemical that transmits nerve impulses. Curiously, individuals who smoke cigarettes are less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease. When there is a deficiency of dopamine, the messages from the brain are disturbed, resulting in typical symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, such as trembling or tremor of the hands and feet. Symptoms most often begin in late middle age or older, but can occur earlier in life in rare cases. There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, but ongoing research into the progression and treatment of the disease is leading to treatments that can slow advancement of the disease and control symptoms. Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease eventually progress to become severely disabling. Other complications of Parkinson’s disease include dementia and depression. Seek prompt medical care if you experience symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, such as trembling of the hands and problems with motor skills and balance. Early diagnosis and treatment can help to slow progression of the disease, minimize symptoms, and improve the quality of your life.