Superwalk makes strides for Parkinson’s in Okanagan

Help find a cure Saturday, Sept. 7

What else do we know about Parkinson’s other than Michael J Fox is battling the disease?

Not so long ago, I was speaking with a woman regarding Parkinson’s Disease. During our chat she said, “there seems to be more and more people diagnosed with Parkinson’s and younger then ever. It’s becoming like cancer, we all know someone touched by it. I just don’t know much about it.”

What do we really know about Parkinson’s? Every one knows the TV and Movie Star Micheal J Fox has Parkinson’s because Michael is one of the great advocates for Parkinson’s.

Parkinson’s has always been looked upon as a old persons disease. The 75 to 80 crowd. Not true. The risk of developing Parkinson’s disease does increases with age, however the average age of the onset is 65 years old and as young as 55. 5% to 10% per cent of people develop the condition before reaching the age of 40 years old. When symptoms appear in people aged 21-40, this is known as young-onset Parkinson’s disease. Juvenile Parkinson’s disease is the term used when symptoms appear before the age of 18 years old, although this is presently rare.

READ MORE: Vernon boxing club caters to Parkinson’s patients

In our small Vernon community; there are people living with Parkinson’s as young as 40 years of age, diagnosed at the age of 33. I was 55 when I was diagnosed at the Pacific Parkinson’s Centre in Vancouver.

To date, no one knows exactly why people get Parkinson’s disease, it is assumed that viral infections or environmental toxins may play a role. People with a parent, sibling or child with Parkinson’s disease, are twice as likely to get it genetically as people in the general population.

The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease develop gradually, as the levels of dopamine falls. Early Parkinson’s disease symptoms usually affect one side of the body. The main symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include:

Tremors: uncontrollable shaking, the symptom most associated with the disease, often beginning in the hands.

Rigidity: stiffness or tensing of the muscles.(neck, legs, arms)

Bradykinesia: slowness of movement, and loss of spontaneous movement.

Postural instability: lack of balance and coordination which may lead to falling.

Keep in mind while reading the following that no two people with Parkinson’s will experience the same course of the disease. People with Parkinson’s are like snowflakes, no two the same.

With research and different medical avenues people living with Parkinson’s are living longer with better quality of life. Not everyone with Parkinson’s has a long hard road, some can go 20 years with livable symptoms, while some have to work harder to adjust to their mental and physical changes. However is there a life that doesn’t have to adjust to difficult changes, mentally, physically or both?

Exercise is as important as the medication Parkinson’s Patient’s take daily. I normally do Kickboxing and Circuit Training throughput the week which keeps me balanced, strong and helps with life’s daily stress. Stress is our number one culprit to our symptoms.

My personal journey living with Parkinson’s has been 5 years completed with a lifetime to go. Keeping a positive mindset and always trying to move forward in life has helped me get over challenges that have come about in my life since being diagnosed.

So is this woman right? Is Parkinson’s being diagnosed more these days then in the past? Is it due to the worlds poor environment issues? Perhaps.

Parkinson’s disease affects 1 in every 500 people in Canada. Over 100,000 Canadians are living with Parkinson’s today and approximately 6,600 new cases of PD are diagnosed each year in Canada (based on annual incidence of 20 new cases per 100,000 people). 13,000 of the 100,000 Canadians live in British Columbia.

Let’s find a cure together. Join the Vernon Parkinson’s Community on Sept. 7 for it’s annual Superwalk at Polson Park. The Superwalk is our largest provincial fundraiser of the year. Registration starts at 9:30 a.m. and the walk at 10:30 a.m.

For more information call 236-426-1586 or 250-545-2232

Submitted by Laura Wilson

READ MORE: Standing tall against Parkinson’s disease


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