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Parkinson's Disease

OPCA vs Parkinson`s disease?

07/16/2009

Question:

Can you give me information concerning OPCA vs Parkinson`s Disease? About 15 years ago I know someone that was Diagnoised with Parkinson`s Disease and took no meds. Now things are starting to really effect balance and other symptons. They went to a Specialist and was told it`s not Parkinson`s Disease, but has OPCA. Any information concerning the difference between the two would be appreciated!

Answer:

Olivopontocerebellar atrophy (OPCA) is only similar to Parkinson's disease (PD) in that these both have features of "parkinsonism". Parkinsonism is basically just symptoms and not a diagnosis. This includes

OPCA is one of the atypical parkinsonian syndromes, and is considered one form of the disease Multisystem Atrophy (MSA).

The pathology of the atypical parkinsonian syndromes is quite different than PD. OPCA typically has mild to no response to the medications that can lessen symptoms of PD given the different mechanism that causes disease. The clinical course of OPCA tends to have features of cerebellar dysfunction such as wide base standing and walking, ataxia/clumsy limb movements, and abnormal eye movements that can be seen when a person with OPCA is examined. Also, there is markedly more difficulty with balance and walking early in disease with OPCA compared with PD. The course of disease progression can be more rapidly progressive in all the atypical parkinsonian syndromes compared with PD as well.

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Response by:

Punit  Agrawal, DO Punit Agrawal, DO
Assistant Professor of Neurology
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University