A condition with no cure or treatment to stop its progression, Parkinson’s is the 14th leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Whether you hang a poster, participate in a fundraising event or make a donation, your contribution to Parkinson’s Awareness Month makes a difference to the 1.5 million in the U.S. currently living with Parkinson’s disease.
What is Parkinson’s Disease?
A progressive disorder of the nervous system, Parkinson’s disease occurs when the brain stops producing dopamine, a neurotransmitter that regulates movement and emotions. Parkinson’s sometimes starts with small tremors in one hand, but can also cause stiffness or slowing of movement.
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Early warning signs of Parkinson’s include:
Slight shaking or tremor in your hand, chin, lip or leg
Loss of smell unrelated to a cold
A sudden change in handwriting, typically writing much smaller than you did in the past
Stiffness in the body, arms or legs that does not go away
Often feeling dizzy or faint
Thrashing or sudden movements during sleep or falling out of bed
The Latest Research on Parkinson’s
The Parkinson’s Disease Foundation (PDF), Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF), National Parkinson Foundation (NPF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are among the groups that fund research into the causes and treatments for Parkinson’s disease. Some of the latest achievements in Parkinson’s research include:
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Drug Compound Moves to Phase III Testing: A Northwestern University study showed that the compound, isradipine, typically prescribed to treat high blood pressure, reduces risks for Parkinson’s by 30% among patients taking it as a blood pressure medication. Recruitment for phase III trials will begin later this year.
Researchers Explore Genetics of Parkinson’s: Scientists at Northwestern University have planned a five-year study on individuals with gene mutations linked to PD, with the hope of gaining insight into a potential disease-modifying therapy.
Best Resources for Parkinson’s Awareness
To learn more about Parkinson’s disease and research and how you can help raise awareness, take a look at these online resources for Parkinson’s:
National Parkinson Foundation (NPF): Provides support and care services for people with PD. The NPF has given millions of dollars to research projects focusing on innovations in treatment and the development of a potential cure.
Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF): Strives to make progress toward new and improved treatments that can slow or stop the progression of Parkinson’s, better address symptoms of the disease and avoid the side effects of current medications.
The Parkinson’s Institute and Clinical Center (PI): Located in Sunnyvale, California, the PI is the only independent, non-profit organization that provides basic and clinical research, clinical trials and patient care for PD and related neurological movement disorders in a single location.
BRAIN Initiative: Details the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Technologies (BRAIN) initiative and how it will help accelerate research and advancements in the field of neurologic and psychiatric disorders.
Parkinson’s Unity Walk (PUW): A 1.4 mile walk that takes place annually in New York City to raise research funds and awareness for Parkinson’s. In 2013, the PUW raised over $1,700,000 for Parkinson’s research.
Have you participated in any Parkinson’s Awareness activities? What was your experience like? Share your story with us in the comments below.
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