April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month across Canada. It’s a time to increase public awareness of this debilitating disease, which affects more than 100,000 Canadians. It’s also a time to raise much-needed funds to continue the fight against a disease that affects the body, but leaves the senses and mind in tact.
The cause of Parkinson’s disease remains unknown. It is a neurodegenerative disease and the number of people diagnosed with it is expected to increase two-fold in the next twenty years, making it more important to continue efforts now to support crucial research.
Body movement is normally controlled by a chemical called dopamine, which carries signals between the nerves and the brain. When the cells that normally produce dopamine die, the symptoms of Parkinson’s appear. The most common symptoms of the disease are: tremor, slowness and stiffness, impaired balance, and rigidity of the muscles. Other symptoms may appear in some people ranging from stooped posture to problems with handwriting.
Currently there isn’t a cure for this disease. Those diagnosed with it may live for years, as the symptoms are treated with medication. More research into the causes of the disease and improved treatments are essential in this fight. Some researchers have claimed that a cure can be found in the next ten or fifteen years with continued research support. Our Government applauds the research efforts of those who work so hard to find a cure.
We can all do our part to support research efforts by supporting the Parkinson Society of Canada and its regional societies this month. In April, the Parkinson Society’s “Hope in Bloom” campaign volunteers will be selling tulips at community centres, shopping malls, and office towers in participating regions across Canada. You can do your part by purchasing a tulip. You can also visit the Parkinson Society of Canada’s website at www.parkinson.ca, to learn more about the disease and talk to those around you about it.
You or someone you love may one day be touched by Parkinson’s disease so it makes it even more important for each of us to do our part now to learn more about it and to support those who work tirelessly to find a cure. Parkinson’s Awareness Month is a perfect time to join the fight that can be won!