Federated Health Charities has recently added three new charities to its roster. One of these new charities is Parkinson Canada.
What is Parkinson’s?
Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative disease that exhibits symptoms when cells that typically produce dopamine (the chemical responsible for carrying signals between the nerves in the brain) die (Parkinson Canada, n.d.). While it is not fatal, the associated complications that may arise can shorten the lifespan of those diagnosed (Holland, 2019).
The most common symptoms are body tremors, slowness or stiffness, impaired balance, and muscle rigidity. Other symptoms include fatigue, issues with handwriting, a stooped posture, soft speech, constipation, and sleep disturbances (Parkinson Canada, n.d.). Depression is also a common non-motor symptom (Parkinson Canada, n.d.).
Reaching a diagnosis is a long process, as there are no x-rays or specific tests to confirm Parkinson’s. Rather, a neurologist must conduct a process of elimination to come to a diagnosis (Parkinson Canada, n.d.). This process of elimination consists of one’s health history, a physical and neurological exam, and a review of the present signs and symptoms (Holland, 2019). Many doctors use the Hoehn and Yahr scale to classify the stages of Parkinson’s, which divides the symptoms into 5 stages to inform healthcare providers of how advanced the disease signs and symptoms are (Holland, 2019).
Parkinson’s usually appears between the ages of 50-60, and the exact cause of the disease is currently unknown. However, it may have both genetic and environmental components (Holland, 2019). Kimberly Holland lists several known risk factors. The first is sex, as men are 1.5 times more likely to get Parkinson’s than women (2019). Another is ethnicity, as Parkinson’s is more prevalent in Caucasians than in Asians and African Americans (Holland, 2019). Family history is another, as those with close family members with Parkinson’s disease are more likely to develop it as well (Holland, 2019). Finally, exposure to certain toxins and experiencing head injuries may increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s as well (Holland, 2019).
Symptoms are treated using several methods, such as medication, surgery, or different types of therapies (Parkinson Canada, n.d.). These are physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and exercise (Parkinson Canada, n.d.). As every Parkinson’s experience is unique, an individualized and holistic approach is necessary (Parkinson Canada, n.d.). Statistics also show that between 50-80% of those with Parkinson’s will experience some degree of dementia (Holland, 2019).
How Parkinson Canada Helps
Parkinson Canada also aids individuals with Parkinson’s and their families, supplying education and services (Parkinson Canada, n.d.). They also advocate on issues significant to the Parkinson’s community, working alongside federal and provincial/territorial levels of government (Parkinson Canada, n.d.). Finally, the Parkinson Canada Research Program provides funding for revolutionary research to search for better treatments and a cure (Parkinson Canada, n.d.).
Parkinson Canada is a valuable charity that we at Federated Health Charities are so proud to partner with! Please donate now, and for more information visit https://www.parkinson.ca/.
Written by Faria Raisa Amin
Holland, K. (2019). Everything you want to know about Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson Canada. (n.d.). About us. https://www.parkinson.ca/about-us/
Parkinson Canada. (n.d.). Understanding Parkinson’s. https://www.parkinson.ca/about-