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Parkinsonism (when symptoms like Parkinson’s Disease occur in Children)

The team at Children's Health℠ includes experts in parkinsonism and other movement disorders. Our experience helps us get to the bottom of what’s causing your child’s parkinsonism so they can regain typical movement and live full and active lives.

What is Juvenile Parkinsonism?

Juvenile parkinsonism is a condition that is often mistaken for Parkinson’s disease. Both conditions have symptoms like poor balance and tremors. But they have different causes. Parkinson’s disease in children is extremely rare, and it only happens in the oldest teens.

Children with parkinsonism can be treated with a combination of medications, therapies and sometimes surgery. Symptoms of parkinsonism often go away after treatment.

What are the signs and symptoms of Juvenile Parkinsonism?

  • Stiff muscles
  • Tremors
  • Slowed movements (bradykinesia)
  • Poor balance

How is Juvenile Parkinsonism diagnosed?

We diagnose juvenile parkinsonism when a child shows at least two of the four signature symptoms. Doctors will do a physical exam and ask you and your child about their health history. They may also order tests like an MRI, to get a detailed picture of the brain. The health history and tests can reveal possible causes of your child’s condition.

What causes children to develop Juvenile Parkinsonism?

Parkinsonism in children usually occurs as a side effect of medications they take or the result of another brain condition they have. For example, some medicines reduce a brain chemical called dopamine, to help kids with emotional and behavioral issues. These medications cause parkinsonism in some children. Other possible causes include severe head trauma and inherited conditions that damage the brain, such as Tay-Sachs disease.

How is Juvenile Parkinsonism treated?

When parkinsonism is caused by another health condition, your child may take medication to reduce their symptoms. When parkinsonism is caused by medication they’re taking for another condition, switching prescriptions can make their symptoms go away.

Juvenile Parkinsonism Doctors and Providers

Parkinsonism has many similarities to Parkinson’s disease, so it is important that physicians caring for parkinsonism have training in both childhood and adult movement disorders. This helps them manage medications and other aspects of care. Our care team is led by a neurologist with expertise in pediatric and adult movement disorders of all kinds, including parkinsonism.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can parkinsonism be cured?

    Many children with parkinsonism can improve with treatment. Some can be cured.

  • What is the difference between parkinsonism and Parkinson’s disease?

    Parkinsonism and Parkinson’s disease have similar symptoms but different causes. Parkinson’s disease is caused by the decay of specific brain cells. This exact problem almost never happens in children. Parkinsonism is caused by the brain’s response to medication or an event or condition that damages the brain.

  • What is the connection between anti-dopamine medication and parkinsonism?

    Reducing dopamine in the brain affects how certain brain cells communicate with other cells. Some medications do this on purpose, to help a child manage conditions like aggression or tics. But sometimes this affects how the brain controls all types of movement, causing tremors, or other physical symptoms of parkinsonism. When that happens, taking different medication may make the parkinsonism symptoms to go away. Your child’s doctor can advise you on the best plan.