April is Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month. Whatever your personal relationship with Parkinson’s is, this April is a good time to brush up on your knowledge of the disease.
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder, affecting dopamine-producing neurons in the brain, affecting at least one million people in the United States alone. It most commonly affects people over 60, but can be diagnosed as young as 18. There is no absolute test for detecting PD, and its causes are mostly unknown. Common symptoms include:
• Resting tremors
• Slowness of movement (bradykinesia)
• Rigid limbs
• Difficulty with standing, walking, balance, and coordination
• Cognitive impairment, difficulty with multitasking or concentrating)
• Mood disorders
• Difficulty with speech and swallowing
• …and other diverse symptoms, not all of which are visible or present all the time.
There is no one treatment for PD, so treatment focuses on each person’s symptoms and experience. Various medications are available to manage or minimize symptoms, although none exist yet that can reverse symptoms entirely. Individuals with PD can also try surgical therapies such as deep brain stimulation if medication proves ineffective. On the other hand, some individuals see improvement through lifestyle changes such as getting more rest and exercising.
Iona offers a Parkinson’s Support Group, meeting at Iona every Friday from 11 AM – 12 PM, available to individuals with Parkinson’s (not caregivers). The group is free, and pre-registration is required. Call (202) 895-9448 for more information.
Additionally, thanks to a grant from the Parkinson’s Foundation Moving Day DC, Iona is able to offer “Stay Moving with Parkinson’s Disease,” a free community exercise class for people with Parkinson’s Disease and their caregivers. Learn more and register for a pre-screening with a physical therapist by calling (202) 895-9448.
For more extensive resources about Parkinson’s disease symptoms, research, and support, you can visit the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. Also available is the Parkinson’s Foundation’s digital library, with a wealth of information about all aspects of PD. Another local resource is the Parkinson Foundation of the National Capital Area, with whom we partner to host our Parkinson’s Support Group.