April is for Awareness and Education
April is Parkinson’s Disease (PD) Awareness Month. All across the world, people living with this disease are proclaiming, “Hey, I have Parkinson’s disease!” Just what is PD you ask? The medical definition of PD is a progressive disease of the nervous system marked by tremor, muscular rigidity, and slow, imprecise movement, chiefly affecting middle-aged and elderly people. It is associated with degeneration of the basal ganglia of the brain and a deficiency of the neurotransmitter dopamine. For those of you that haven’t obtained your medical degree yet, here is my definition of PD from someone who lives with it every day.
“PD is a condition that affects the signals in your brain that tell your body what to do. Breathing, walking, talking, swallowing, thinking, sitting, standing. Just about everything we do.”
The origin of Parkinson’s disease
After years of study, ever since the publication of Dr. James Parkinson’s paper entitled, “Shaking Palsy” in 1817, many advances have been made in understanding how PD affects the body and how to treat it medically. However, for all the discoveries made into this disease, many mysteries remain today. We still do not know the cause, and we do not know how to cure those living with PD. This brings me to why we declare the month of April Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month.
Education and promotion is key during April
Dr. Parkinson was born on April 11th and so we memorialize his birth date with a global awareness of his discovery but there is so much more to this story. If you asked most people you meet on the street if they know what Parkinson’s disease is, chances are 1 in 5 will relate it to celebrities like Michael J Fox or the late Muhammed Ali but few understand what is involved in living with PD. This is where education comes in. Education is the greatest key to awareness. When you take the time to truly educate someone about PD, they become aware and understand the disease better. This has a trickle-up effect that alters scientific research, public reaction, funding of studies, and quality treatments. This leads to acceptance and better understanding for family, friends, and coworkers.
For me, I’ve been blessed. Everyone I come in contact with, from my grocer to the bank teller even my adult children and grandchildren support the things my wife and I do to promote PD awareness not only each April but throughout the year. You see, PD affects me and those in my circle of influence not just once a year but every day of my life. The reality of it all is this. For as long as PD exists in the world today and as long as a cure remains elusive and mysterious to the scientific community, I will engage myself and those around me in the education and awareness of this disease.
Which of the following caffeinated beverages do you regularly consume?