Spotlight on Parkinson Disease

Apr 10, 2024

Federated Health Charities supports a number of brain related health charities, including Parkinson Canada, so, we are going to talk a little about Parkinson’s and its impact.

Collage of images related to Parkinson Canada. Their logo is in the middle.

And, we are also going to talk about one amazing researcher at the University of Toronto who is now doing her master’s degree focusing on research to combat the disease. Anthaea-Grace Dennis graduated last year at 12 from the University of Ottawa, the youngest undergraduate ever. At 13, she is now at the University of Toronto doing a master’s degree and affiliated with the University Health Network’s Krembil Brain Institute, where she’s conducting research on how artificial intelligence can be used to better diagnose Parkinson’s disease. Artificial intelligence, she believes, has the potential to detect important differences in a patient’s symptomatic and medical data that could lead to earlier diagnoses.

Photo by Julie Oliver/Postmedia
Photo by Julie Oliver/Postmedia

Dennis says she’s interested in the study of movement, and how it is affected by the brain.  “It has always really fascinated me,” she said in an interview with Postmedia. “I love to play the violin and to figure skate, and I understand how movement disorders like Parkinson’s can have a massive effect on a person’s life.”

Parkinson Canada is one of the 21 charities supported by Federated Health Charities. They offer help and information about support groups, webinars, referrals to services in your community, exercise and wellness as well as one-on-one counselling. They also invest in research – over $31 million since 1981, searching for interventions that can help people with Parkinson’s live a better life until a cure is found.

Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative disease which affects about one in every 500 people in Canada, usually when they’re over the age of 60.

Movement is normally controlled by dopamine, a chemical that carries signals between the nerves in the brain. When cells that normally produce dopamine die, Parkinson symptoms appear.

Parkinson’s is commonly characterized by its motor symptoms, which include slowness of movement, rigidity, tremor and postural instability.

But many people experience other changes that are often not identified as symptoms of the disease. These are known as non-motor symptoms and are often left untreated. They can impact quality of life and can be experienced prior to motor symptoms. Sufferers may not realize that these symptoms are linked to Parkinson’s.

Depression may be an early symptom of Parkinson’s

Depression is one of the most common, and most disabling, non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. As many as 50% of people with Parkinson’s experience clinical depression at some stage of the disease. Some people experience depression up to a decade or more before experiencing any motor symptoms.

People with Parkinson’s can live for years. The symptoms are currently treated with medication until research finds a cure.

If you want to support groundbreaking work like that of Anthaea-Grace, please donate to Parkinson’s through Federated Health Charities.

For Anthaea-Grace’s full story, please read at Articles by Andrew Duffy’s Profile | Ottawa Citizen Journalist | Muck Rack

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For general questions:

Sarah Wood
Executive Director
437-925-6227
sarah.wood2@ontario.ca

Address

315 Front St. West, 5th Floor
Toronto, ON
M7A 0B8

Federated Health Charities White Logo

For general questions:

Sarah Wood
Executive Director
437-925-6227
sarah.wood2@ontario.ca

Address

315 Front St. West, 5th Floor
Toronto, ON
M7A 0B8

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