(image courtesy of Shutterstock)

(image courtesy of Shutterstock)

Vernon woman says Parkinson’s disease is ‘cruel and unforgiving’

April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month in British Columbia

In Vernon, we have many amazing individuals living full lives with one of the most cruel diseases.

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the second most common degenerative neurological disorder after Alzheimer’s but it receives significantly less attention.

It is cruel and unforgiving, causing tremors, rigidity, instability, speech difficulty, and in some cases, depression, cognitive issues, anxiety and dementia.

Contrary to belief, Parkinson’s is not exclusively diagnosed in senior population. It can affect individuals of all ages and genders, including those in their 20’s with young children. The debilitating effects of Parkinson’s are felt not only by the person with the disease, but their entire family and broader community. There is currently no cure.

In British Columbia, there are approximately 13,000 individuals living with Parkinson’s Disease and more than 100,000 individuals living with Parkinson’s in Canada.

Parkinson’s disease is caused by the degeneration of the cells which produce dopamine in the substantia nigra area of the brain. It is not known why the cells are damaged or destroyed although there are many theories.

Dopamine is a brain neurotransmitter which sends signals from one nerve cell to another. It affects the part of the brain which controls smooth, voluntary movements such as walking, writing, throwing a ball or buttoning a shirt.

Since there is no cure, treatment is focused on the symptom management. Medication and exercise are the two most important and common ways to treat Parkinson’s disease.

In British Columbia there are support groups throughout the province along with the Parkinson Society British Columbia in Vancouver.

The Parkinson Society was established in 1969 and acts as the voice of British Columbians affected by Parkinson’s disease. Their purpose is to ease the burden through advocacy, education and support services, while pursuing the search for a cure by investing in promising research.

The society receives no government funding and is supported entirely by generosity of individual donors, corporations, foundations and dedicated efforts of volunteers.

The Vernon Support Group meets every third Thursday of the month at the People’s Place between 1 -3 p.m. For more information call Laura at 236-426-1586 or Bill at 250-545-2232.


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