With the number of people living with Parkinson’s expected to double by 2040 and no cure yet available, a B.C. advocate is asking for some urgency.
“We’re losing the race,” said Larry Gifford, president of the Global Alliance to End Parkinson’s Disease (PD Avengers).
Parkinson’s is the world’s fastest growing neurological condition, according to the World Health Organization. In less than 20 years time, approximately 20 million people around the world will have it.
The global alliance is hoping to slow its roll, though. To mark 2022’s World Parkinson’s Day (April 11), the international advocacy group released a symbol of awareness: The Spark.
The symbol is shaped like a lightning bolt and inspired by dopamine, the electro-chemical neurotransmitter people with Parkinson’s are striving to retain.
Gifford said by the time someone is diagnosed, they’ve already lost 70 to 80 per cent of their dopamine producing brain cells. The result can be difficulty moving, tremors and impaired balance and coordination.
A lot of stigma comes alongside that. Gifford said at times it can look like he is drunk walking across the street at 11 a.m.
He hopes The Spark helps to educate people about the symptoms of Parkinson’s and open a global conversation about the disease. He also hopes it inspires donations to research.
“Science is very, very slow and very, very expensive, and we need to light a spark,” Gifford said.
People with Parkinson’s have been relying on the same medication since the early 1970s, but that doesn’t mean better ones aren’t possible, Gifford said.
Watching the world’s reaction to COVID-19 has convinced him if something is considered important enough, the scientific community will come together and come up with a solution.
More information about the disease and taking action against it can be found at worldparkinsonsday.com.