WORLD PARKINSON’S DAY
Every year on April 11th, World Parkinson’s Day raises awareness for this progressive nervous system disorder. It’s also a day to help the general public understand the reality of this disease for those who have it.
According to recent statistics from the Parkinson’s Foundation, over 10 million people in the world have this disease. This neurodegenerative disorder occurs when neurons in the brain break down or die. When these nerve cells die, it reduces dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that sends messages from one nerve cell to another. Low dopamine levels cause abnormal brain activity, which results in impaired movement. This is why tremors are usually the first symptom of Parkinson’s disease.
Other early symptoms of this disease include:
- Changes in handwriting
- Loss of smell
- Trouble sleeping
- Stiffness in arms or legs
- Soft or hoarse voice
- Hunched over posture
Just because someone has one of these symptoms doesn’t automatically mean they have Parkinson’s disease. However, if someone has more than one of these symptoms, they may want to see their doctor. When the disease progresses, it can cause dementia, depression, and limited mobility.
Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive condition for which there is no cure. However, there are treatment options that can help to manage the symptoms. Medication is often prescribed to help treat certain symptoms of this disease. Some patients might also undergo a surgical procedure called deep brain stimulation (DBS). During this procedure, electrodes are implanted into the brain. These electrodes send electrical impulses to the brain which can help reduce symptoms.
HOW TO OBSERVE #WorldParkinsonsDay
Many health organizations and support groups hold a variety of events on this day. These events include fundraisers for Parkinson’s disease research, webinars, informational displays, and Art for Parkinson’s workshops.
- Do something special for someone with Parkinson’s disease or their caregiver.
- Learn about famous people with Parkinson’s, such as Muhammad Ali, Neil Diamond, Michael J. Fox, Billy Graham, and Linda Ronstadt.
- Watch a film about Parkinson’s, such as Never Steady Never Still, Kinetics, and Ride with Larry.
- If you know someone who shows early signs of Parkinson’s disease, encourage them to see their doctor.
- Spread awareness for this day on social media by posting an image of a red tulip along with #WorldParkinsonsDay.
WORLD PARKINSON’S DAY HISTORY
The European Parkinson’s Disease Association (EPDA) and the World Health Organization established World Parkinson’s Day on April 11th, 1997. April 11th is the birthday of Dr. James Parkinson. He is the first physician to recognize Parkinson’s as a medical condition. He published an essay in 1817 called, “An Essay on the Shaking Palsy.” During the 9th World Parkinson’s Disease Day Conference in 2005, the red tulip was adopted as the official symbol for the disease.