There is no cure. There is, however, hope.
Parkinson’s disease is a chronic, progressive ,neurological disorder that is life-altering. The symptoms include tremor, rigidity, slowness and stiffness of muscles, impaired balance and difficulty with walking, loss of volume and clarity of speech, tendency to shuffle when walking, and handwriting difficulty.
April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month and there will be informational tables set up at Pine Centre Mall on April 24 and 25.
The Parkinson Society British Columbia (PSBC) exists to address the personal and social consequences of Parkinson’s disease through education, outreach, scientific research, advocacy, and public awareness. The society receives no government funding and is supported entirely by the generosity of individual donors and members, corporations, foundations, and the dedicated efforts of volunteers.
The area of the brain affected in Parkinson’s is the substania nigra where a chemical messenger called dopamine is produced. The presence of dopamine allows nerve impulses to travel smoothly from one cell to another. The nerve cells transmit messages to the muscles of the body to begin voluntary movement.
When dopamine levels fall below 50 per cent, the symptoms of Parkinson’s appear. Parkinson’s disease is not thought to be inherited. It is not contagious.
Treatment is needed to correct the deficiency of dopamine. Replacing the dopamine alleviates the symptoms but does not halt the progression of the disease. As symptoms progress, more medication is needed. There is no cure yet.
There are 11,000 people in B.C. and over 100,000 in Canada who live with Parkinson’s disease. Forty per cent of cases are diagnosed before the age of 60, many as young as 30. Canadians with Parkinson’s rely on universal access to Home Care supports and services to achieve maximum quality of life. Sadly, current access varies significantly from region to region, city to city, town to town.
The proper care for a person with Parkinson’s disease includes: family physician, neurologist or movement disorder specialist, Parkinson’s nurse specialist, pharmacist, occupational therapist, physiotherapist, social worker/psychologist, speech and language pathologist, and dietician.
For more information, phone PG Parkinson Support Group at 250-967-4454.