Originally Published: April 7, 2015 6:02 a.m.
Did you know that April is Parkinson's Awareness Month? An entire month of recognition raises awareness so that a community can become better educated in a particular disease, situation or historic event. Hopefully that month will also see an influx in fundraising.Parkinson's is one of those vague diseases that we tend to associate with grandma or Uncle Bob.However, the most famous person coping with this disease isn't near grandma's age ... Michael J. Fox, of "Back to the Future" and "Family Ties" fame.When someone who is 21 to 40 years old receives a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease, it is often referred to as early onset Parkinson's.So, this isn't an age-related issue. Which is why taking some time from your day to educate yourself isn't a bad idea.Fox's website, www.michaeljfox.org offers a Podcast, a quiz and fundraising ideas and www.parkinson.org is the National Parkinson Foundation site, with quite a bit of downloadable information. The state site is www.parkinsonnetworkaz.org and is full of information and events coming up in our state.According to www.michaeljfox.org, "Parkinson's disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative brain disorder that progresses slowly in most people. Most people's symptoms take years to develop, and they live for years with the disease.In short, a person's brain slowly stops producing a neurotransmitter called dopamine. With less and less dopamine, a person has less and less ability to regulate their movements, body and emotions. Parkinson's disease itself is not fatal. However, complications from the disease are serious; the Center for Disease Control rated complications from PD as the 14th top cause of death in the United States."Some things to keep watch on, according to www.youngparkinsons.org, are these motor symptoms:Tremor (when limb is at rest)Bradykinesia (slowness)Rigidity (stiffness)Postural instability (balance problems)The website states, "It is important to know that not all of these symptoms must be present for a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease to be considered. In fact, younger people may only notice one or two of these motor symptoms, especially in the early stages of the disease. Finally, not everyone with PD has a tremor, nor is a tremor proof positive of Parkinson's. If you suspect PD, see a neurologist or movement disorders specialist."Get involvedYou have an opportunity to help Yavapai County families dealing with this disease. The Parkinson Network of Arizona is hosting the Paws for Parkinson's Walk and Expo on April 25 in Prescott Valley."100 percent of funds raised will be dedicated to over 1,000 people in Yavapai County and their care partners who daily cope with the challenges and often difficult circumstances of living with Parkinson disease," according to the organization's press release.The Daily Courier will have a story later this week on the event and the group's website above has more information.Let's get out and do something to help one another.- Robin Layton, editor