April is Parkinson's Awareness Month and an excellent opportunity to raise awareness and education about this disease. About 1 in 250 people in Canada over the age of 40 live with the disease, with the rates increasing to 1 in 100 for those over 65. However, in rare cases the condition can appear as early as childhood.
You are probably familiar with the most common symptom of Parkinson's Disease, which is uncontrollable tremors or shaking. Over the past 20 years we have watched as high profile celebrities, like Muhammad Ali and Michael J. Fox, have battled with the disease - often in the public eye.
The symptoms of Parkinson's extend beyond tremors and shaking. Stiffness and rigidity in the muscles, impaired balance, fatigue and problems with handwriting or posture can all be linked to Parkinson's. All of the symptoms are related to the death of cells in the brain which produce dopamine, a chemical which carries signals between the nerves that control movement and coordination. As a degenerative disorder, the symptoms worsen over time as the brain produces less dopamine as the disease progresses.
Currently there is no cure for Parkinson's, but there are many drugs that can help treat symptoms of the disease. Parkinson's progresses at different speeds in each individual and drugs can have varying effects on each person. 13 years after announcing his departure from television because of his battle with Parkinson's, Michael J. Fox is returning to a new show
this fall thanks to a new drug regimen.
With the average age of diagnosis being in the mid-50's, there are many people who have to finish their careers or working lives while managing symptoms of Parkinson's. Tomorrow we will discuss Parkinson's in the workplace and accommodations which can help employees who are living with this condition.
In the meantime, please visit the Parkinson Society of Canada
to further educate yourself on the disease, spread the word about Parkinson's, and help support the ongoing efforts to find a cure.
If you would like to read an account of what it may be like to live with Parkinson's Disease, then please read the personal story of Stephen
, one of our volunteers here at Champions.
Labels: awareness, Canada, disability, Parkinson's Disease