Beyond this shake, beyond this contortion of the human jacket is a soul with purpose, seeking truth, finding strength, accepting courage, having the sweet ability to keep on….

What do these celebrities have in common – Michael J Fox, Mohammed Ali, Linda Ronstadt and Neil Diamond? They all suffer from Parkinson’s disease.

It was in 1817 that a detailed medical essay was published on the subject by London doctor James Parkinson after whom it was named Parkinson’s disease. His essay was called “An Essay on the Shaking Palsy”. This essay established Parkinson’s disease as a recognised medical condition. Parkinson studied and reported six cases in his own practice.

Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder that causes unintended or uncontrollable movements, such as shaking, stiffness, and difficulty with balance and coordination. Symptoms usually begin gradually and worsen over time. As the disease progresses, people may have difficulty walking and talking.

It is presented by muscle rigidity, tremor, a slowing of physical movement (Bradykinesia), and in extreme cases a loss of physical movement (Akinesia).

The primary symptoms are caused by the loss of nerve cells or neutrons deep in the brain which normally produce Dopamine. Without enough Dopamine normal movement becomes affected and Dopamine replacement is required.


  • Tremor – usually referred to as arresting tremor.
  • Stiffness and muscle cramps known as rigidity, particularly affecting the arm, leg and neck.
  • Slowness in initiating movement known as Bradykinesia.

Some people may also experience 

  • Problems with sleeping.
  • Memory problems.
  • Problems with drooling or sweating.
  • Feelings of anxiety or depression.

Parkinson’s disease is progressive but rarely life threatening.

All ages can be affected, however it is more prominent in older individuals.

In Zimbabwe we are proud to report that we have our own Parkinson’s Support Group. Initiated in 2012 by Clare Cullinan, herself a Parkinson’s victim, this group caters for Parkinson’s sufferers, their care partners and any other individual who would like to find out more about this affliction.

The Group meets informally once a month to discuss and share individual problems, complaints and possible cures. On occasions the Group welcomes an expert in the field to join them for a talk and to answer relevant questions.

Exercise plays an important part in the rehabilitation of Parkinsonians. Dance for PD is a remarkable programme which offers specialized dance classes to people with Parkinsons and their families, friends and care partners. Founded in New York in 2001, the programme is the product of a collaboration between Mark Morris Dance Group and the Brooklyn Parkinson Group and is presented in 25 countries around the world.

Christie Clayton has completed the introductory Teacher Training with Dance for Parkinson SA, under the auspices of Dance for PD, Brooklyn, and presents a weekly programme for the Parkinson’s Support Group here in Harare.


  • Increased grace, flexibility and range of movement.
  • Connection of mind to body.
  • Improved balance and spatial awareness.
  • Social interaction, creativity, confidence and JOY.

If you would like to know more about The Parkinson’s Support Group here in Harare please WhatsApp Parkinson’s Support Group 263 772 475693 or email

Roger Fairlie (Chairman – PD Support Group)

With acknowledgements to:

The Parkinson’s and Related Movement Disorders Association of South Africa,

Dance4PD, Cape Town

Christie Clayton and

Clare Cullinan.

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