Parkinson’s Awareness Week
Parkinson’s Awareness Week helps shine a light on the slow and progressive disease. Some notable public figures who suffered from the disease are Muhammad Ali, heavyweight champion and Michael J Fox, star of the Back to the Future film franchise. These big names help raise the awareness of the disease, but do people actually know what the disease is?
What is the aim of Parkinson’s Awareness Week?
Parkinson’s Awareness Week main aim is to raise awareness in the UK of a slow and progressive disease. Every hour, someone in the UK is told they have Parkinson’s and it affects around 127,000 people in the UK. Most of these people are aged over 50 but younger people can be affected too.
Parkinson’s UK is the main charity and support for people who suffer from Parkinson’s, and since 1969, they have invested £70 million in research into all aspects of Parkinson’s which is an amazing achievement.
If you would like more information on Parkinson’s, or events going on in Parkinson’s Awareness Week then please visit the Parkinson’s UK website.
What is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s is a disease which attacks the brain. It develops slowly and progressively gets worse, as the damage to the brain increases. The three main symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are tremors (involuntary shaking of particular parts of the body), slow movement and stiff and inflexible muscles.
Parkinson’s can also lead to other secondary conditions which include depression, balance problems, lack of smell, problems sleeping and memory problems. Parkinson’s disease is caused by “a loss of nerve cells in a part of the brain called the substantia nigra”. This decreases the amount of dopamine created in the brain, which is a key chemical in regulating the body’s movement.
There is no current cure for Parkinson’s but there are treatments for symptom control and to try and ensure a good quality of life for as long as possible. These include physiotherapy, medication and in some extreme circumstances, brain surgery. If on the rare occasion the treatments don’t work as well as expected, Parkinson’s can cause disability, and make day-to-day tasks difficult.
Parkinson’s doesn’t directly kill you, but it can put an immense amount of pressure on your body, and this, in turn, can leave people more susceptible to serious life-threatening conditions. With advances in medication, however, people are living longer and the life expectancy of someone suffering Parkinson’s is similar to that of the general population.
Facts about Parkinson’s Disease
Here are a few main facts about the disease:
- 1 in 500 people are affected by Parkinson’s disease
- Roughly 127,000 people in the UK suffer from Parkinson’s
- Only 1 in 20 with the condition first experience symptoms when they are under 40
- Men are more likely to develop the disease compared to women
- Parkinson’s disease is named after Dr James Parkinson (1755-1824), the doctor that first identified the condition.
- There is no cure for Parkinson’s