Did you know that 11th April is “Parkinson’s World Awareness Day”?

This day is symbolized by the wearing of a Grey Ribbon and identified by a specially cultivated Tulip. The “Dr. James Parkinson Tulip” was developed by a Dutch horticulturist who had Parkinson’s Disease.  The red and white tulip has been adopted as the world wide symbol.

Parkinson’s Disease is one of the most common disorders of the nervous system (i.e. a neurological condition) that is characterized by problems with body movements, although a wide variety of other non-movement symptoms can also occur.  

PD or just Parkinson’s, was named after a London doctor, James Parkinson, who first described the symptoms of the disease in 1817. The disease has probably been around for hundreds of years but seems more common now.  This would be expected because Parkinson’s occurs mostly in those over the age of 60 or 70 but can affect people as young as 30 or 40.

As yet there is no known cure for this progressively worsening condition but it can be managed and treated in many ways – with medications, surgery, exercise, diet and complementary therapies, with emotional support and strong relationships all playing important roles. 

Parkinson’s has no bounds and can afflict anyone. Well known celebrity sufferers of our time being; Film Star Michael J Fox, Boxing Champion Muhammad Ali, Grammy Award winner Linda Ronstadt, Charles Schulz creator of the Comic Strip “Peanuts” and Christian Evangelist Billy Graham.

Thanks to the financial support of organisations such as the Michael J Fox Foundation, great strides have been made in combating the effects of Parkinson’s and will hopefully lead to an end of this deteriorating condition.

In Harare there is a Parkinson’s Support Group which meets at 9.30am every fourth Saturday of each month, where sufferers and their care partners meet to discuss a wide variety of relevant subjects. New members are always welcome. The current coordinator is Roger Fairlie, Roger can be contacted on WhatsApp contact number 0732 475 693.

Furthermore, “Dance for PD”, a remarkable programme which offers specialized dance classes to people with Parkinson’s and their families, friends and care partners is now available on a regular basis – contact Christie Clayton on 0772 252 808.

PD Awareness Day is about bringing a better understanding to the public, of Parkinson’s and how they can help those living with the condition.  That’s why one of our campaign messages for this year’s Parkinson’s Awareness Day is “Parkinson’s takes away our control, your understanding can give some back.”

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