What is PD? Help spread the word during Parkinson’s Awareness Month

 Parkinson’s Awareness Month

PDAwarenessThroughout the month of April, the IOA will be celebrating Parkinson’s Awareness Month. As close collaborators of the Penn Udall Center for Parkinson’s Research and the Penn Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Center (PDMDC), it is our goal to help facilitate and support the groundbreaking research and care for Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients and their loved ones here at Penn.

 

 

So, what is Parkinson’s disease?

SubstantiaNigraParkinson’s disease is a “chronic and progressive disorder of the nervous system that primarily affects movement.” It develops when a group of cells in an area of the brain called the substantia nigra begin to malfunction and die. These cells are responsible for the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that sends information to the parts of the brain that control movement and coordination. As the dopamine-producing cells die and the level of dopamine in the brain decreases, messages from the brain telling the body how and when to move are slowed more and more, rendering the person unable to initiate and control movement normally.

Other symptoms of PD can include problems with thinking and changes in mood and/or sleep, as well as involuntary movements like tremors or muscle stiffness. While there is currently no cure for PD, there are ways to treat the symptoms. Treatment options include deep brain stimulation, drug treatment, occupational therapy, physical therapy, psychiatric and neuropsychology services, and speech therapy among others.

Parkinson’s Disease Facts
Courtesy of PDMDC and michaeljfox.org

  • Parkinson’s disease affects one in 100 people over the age of 60.
  • The exact cause of PD is unknown, but both genetic and environment are causes.
  • There is no single test to diagnose PD. Neurologists make diagnoses based on assessment of symptoms, medical history, and neurological and physical examinations. In some cases, advanced imaging techniques like MRI scans or dopamine imaging scans can help make the diagnosis by ruling out other disorders.

Celebrate Parkinson’s Awareness Month with the IOA

#FaceTheFactsFriday: This year, the IOA will celebrate Parkinson’s Awareness month in a few different ways. Each Friday this month, the IOA will participate in ‘Face the Facts Friday.’ Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter for a new Parkinson’s disease fact each week. Share our posts and use the hashtags #FacetheFactsFriday and #ParkinsonsAwarenessMonth to join in on the conversation and help spread the word!

Penn Udall Center for Parkinson’s Research Virtual Tour

Towards the end of the month, be sure to keep an eye out for the official premiere of the Penn Udall Center for Parkinson’s Research Virtual Tour video! The video will highlight the talented team of researchers, scientists, and Udall collaborators and the groundbreaking work being done here at Penn. You will get a look into both the clinical and basic research that is at the foundation of our projects and how these investigators are working to improve and increase the levels of education and research on this neurodegenerative disease.

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