Heightened Awareness for Parkinson’s Disease

Today is World Parkinson’s Day, which was established 22 years ago on April 11, 1997 as a joint initiative between the European Parkinson’s Disease Association (EDPA) and the World Health Organization. The observance fittingly takes place on the birthday of social reformer and political activist James Parkinson (b. April 11, 1755), who first recognized Parkinson’s (then “Shaking Palsy”) as a medical condition.

By next year, it is estimated that nearly one million people will be living in the US with Parkinson’s disease (PD)—that’s more than the number of people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, and Lou Gehrig’s disease (also known as ALS) combined. Awareness about the disease—and mental health in general—is key in order to work toward new treatments and a potential cure, according to the Parkinson’s Foundation.

KeyToPD Cover 1

Not only is every April 11th World Parkinson’s Day, the entire month is Parkinson’s Awareness Month. For this year’s theme, the Parkinson’s Foundation chose “Awareness is #KeyToPD” and offers tools on everything you need to know about how to participate. If you’re active on social media, help promote the observance on your platform using the toolkit on the Parkinson’s Foundation’s website. Participating can be sharing information on the disease online (don’t forget to hashtag #KeyToPD), or just learning more about the neurodegenerative disorder for yourself—every bit of effort counts.

Earlier this year, we posted a Q&A with former Dana grantee and associate professor at Salk Institute, Xin Jin, Ph.D., on “Seeking Triggers for Parkinson’s,” where he talks about his research on interneurons (neurons that transmit messages between other neurons) in the striatum—a structure in the middle of the brain that is linked to the dysfunction that comes with diseases such as Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, ADHD, and schizophrenia. We also published a news article that focuses on sense of smell and how it plays a role in helping to diagnose Parkinson’s more accurately.

Researchers are increasingly looking at gut health and microbiota (the collective bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microorganisms that live in the digestive tract) as a factor in a number of disorders, including PD. Read our Cerebrum article, “Gut Feelings on Parkinson’s and Depression,” or listen to our podcast with article co-author Ted Dinan, M.D., Ph.D., to learn more.

If you prefer watching a video or listening to audio over reading articles, we also have a playlist dedicated to Parkinson’s disease featuring several Dana Alliance members on our YouTube channel.

The Parkinson’s Foundation is asking you to get involved and share tips for better living with the disease. Find videos posted by people living with the condition, including advice for traveling, walking, and meditating. Whether you are living with PD, are a caregiver or healthcare professional, or living with a loved one who has PD, no topic is off limits. The aim is to help make living with Parkinson’s just a little easier:

– Seimi Rurup

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