Parkinson’s disease is a life-threatening neurodegenerative disorder caused by the progressive degeneration of dopamine-producing nerve cells in a specific area of the brain. This leads to a progressive loss in coordination and movement. Although the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease can vary among patients, the main symptoms include muscle rigidity, tremors, gait and balance problems, and bradykinesia.

What is a Parkinson’s diary?

Since the exact symptoms of the disease can show variability, it is recommended that patients diagnosed with Parkinson’s keep a diary to monitor progression of the disease.

A Parkinson’s diary also can be used to track response to medications and record which symptoms are particularly troublesome.

Such a diary can be extremely helpful in tracking critical patterns in symptoms, describing side effects caused by medications, and recording  progressive emotional or behavioral changes.

The diary can be an indispensable tool in effectively and accurately communicating disease characteristics to a doctor. Since doctors’ appointments can sometimes be short, a Parkinson’s diary can save precious time in communicating critical information regarding the disease.

The Parkinson’s diary can include information about personal hygiene, dressing, eating, and sleeping habits, as well as information about any movement difficulties. For instance, the diary can be used to record whether the patient had difficulties changing positions during sleep or whether they recently fell.

The diary also should contain information about the dose and frequency of any medications and by what extent each medication helps in reducing the severity of the symptoms. This can help a clinician discern any noticeable patterns or relations between the medications and the disease symptoms, such as a symptom reappearing during a certain time of day or persisting despite taking medication.

Color-coding symptoms and medications within the diary can greatly help clinicians quickly identify relevant patterns or relations with respect to the disease.

Details about the time and frequency of abnormal, uncontrolled, and involuntary movement also should be recorded.

Details regarding food and snacks can help the physician notice whether certain foods influence symptoms.

Finally, the diary can include information about how caregivers and family members help the patient cope with symptoms, and identify any special care approaches that may be required at a particular time of the day.

Formats for a Parkinson’s Diary

The descriptive characteristics of information in a Parkinson’s diary can be organized in different formats. A 24-hour motor diary and a worksheet organized by graded scale for symptoms are popular formats to organize information in these diaries.

There also are electronic diaries and apps that aid in digitizing and electronically recording patients’ symptoms.

Effort should be taken by clinicians, family, and caregivers to ensure that information in the diary is recorded properly and updated routinely.

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Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

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Ana holds a PhD in Immunology from the University of Lisbon and worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Instituto de Medicina Molecular (iMM) in Lisbon, Portugal. She graduated with a BSc in Genetics from the University of Newcastle and received a Masters in Biomolecular Archaeology from the University of Manchester, England. After leaving the lab to pursue a career in Science Communication, she served as the Director of Science Communication at iMM.