About Parkinson’s: Quick Facts

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More than 25 Canadians are diagnosed with Parkinson's every day. By 2031 this number is projected to be 51 people a day! Put simply, the need for support is becoming more pressing. Parkinson Canada is a welcoming voice on the other end of the line for anyone, anywhere in Canada when adjusting to diagnosis and a source of support throughout their journey with Parkinson's. Further, they fund a Parkinson Canada Research Program which supports novel projects in search of a cure that will help us turn the clock from one per hour, down to zero.

We've divided our facts into the following four areas: Parkinson's Facts | Research Info | Research Examples | Support, Education and Advocacy

Parkinson ’s Disease

  • Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative disease that affects approximately 100,000 Canadians and their 400,000 family members, loved ones and care partners.
  • The number of Canadians over 40 living with Parkinson’s disease, will increase by 65 per cent, from 99,000 in 2016 to 163,700 by 2031.
  • By 2031 the number of Canadians over 65 living with Parkinson’s disease, will more than double to 148,800
  • More than 25 people a day in Canada are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and by 2031 this number is projected to be 51 people a day!
  • Funding for research is vital, to ensure better treatments for those diagnosed and ultimately a future without Parkinson’s.
  • The support services, education and advocacy provided by the Parkinson Canada will see greater demand in the years ahead.
  • Movement is normally controlled by dopamine, which is a chemical that carries signals between the nerves in the brain. When cells that produce dopamine die, the symptoms of Parkinson’s appear.
  • Symptoms can include a resting tremor, difficulty with fine movement, balance and walking, slowness and muscle stiffness, loss of volume and clarity of speech and handwriting.
  • Although Parkinson’s is known as a movement disorder, in reality it affects all aspects of life, including one’s ability to eat, sleep, walk, talk, think, and reason.
  • In addition to the change in motor skills are the non-motor symptoms, including changes in mental health, such as depression, dementia, sleep disorders, and impulsive behaviour.
  • Parkinson’s changes everything from finances to relationships. It changes lives.

Parkinson Canada: Research

  • Parkinson Canada provides funding for Canadian researchers through its Parkinson Canada Research Program. This research is investigator driven discovery research and is peer reviewed by a team of scientific advisors ensuring that research funds are designated to only the best-rated projects.
  • By not targeting specific areas of research, this catalytic or venture funding methodology allows researchers to be creative and try novel ideas, an approach that promotes discovery and breakthroughs.
  • By promoting research into novel ideas Parkinson Canada supports new ideas that otherwise may not be investigated. Researchers are able to leverage Parkinson Canada’s funding into additional support for their research projects.
  • For example, Dr. Connie Marras was able to turn a $45,000 Parkinson Canada Grant into $2,000,000 in new grant monies from findings as part of her 2011-2013 funded grant.

Research Examples

  • In 2013 Dr. Marc Ekker’s lab was able to produce zebrafish in which they could selectively kill the dopaminergic neurons. They are now in the position to examine the possible regeneration of these neurons. Understanding how zebrafish regenerate dopaminergic neurons should be instrumental in the development of methods to stimulate the regeneration of such neurons in Parkinson’s patients.
  • In 2014, Dr. Jacques Drouin discovered a mechanism regulating dopamine levels in the brain. His research discovered that a defect in a specific gene can lead to cell death in dopaminergic neurons, suggesting that this gene could be a new target for the development of drugs to treat Parkinson’s.
  • “Our research puts disease management in the hands of patients. Non-motor symptoms affect quality of life, including depression, loss of sense of smell, sleep disturbances and changes in thinking ability. There have been a lot of little successes, including treatment of depression, and other non-motor symptoms. By funding these types of research, Parkinson Canada is leading the way in connecting all the pieces, motor, non-motor and psychosocial, to better understand (and treat) Parkinson’s."

    - Dr. Ron Postuma, Psychosocial Research Grant 2009-2011

Parkinson Canada: Support, Education and Advocacy

  • Through our education and awareness programs, we help to build a better understanding of Parkinson’s disease and improve the quality of care.
  • Healthcare professional outreach campaigns take place across the country to help educate staff working in hospitals and long term care about the individual nature of Parkinson’s and the importance of providing custom care, including adherence to individual medication regimens. These programs compliment the Canadian Guidelines on Parkinson’s Disease the first of their kind developed to guide medical professionals in care of patients with Parkinson’s.
  • Parkinson Canada staffs information and referral lines, accessible to anyone, anywhere in Canada. An important complement to treatment by a movement disorder specialist or neurologist, our information and referral lines provide connections to important community resources, access to information and resources in response to specific questions. More than that, they provide support.
  • From the moment anyone, anywhere is diagnosed Parkinson Canada is there as a supportive voice and a partner in good health through Parkinson Canada referral lines and support groups.
  • Our network of passionate volunteers and facilitators help to provide support in the communities where people live through Parkinson Canada Chapters and Support Groups. With over 250 available across the country, needed local support, education, and information is available to anyone in Canada living with Parkinson’s.
  • “Upon diagnosis I was welcomed into a new world - the Parkinson Community. And what a Community it is! The symbiotic relationships between Parkinson Canada, its support groups, and their members represents a true community. For I know full well that whatever I experience, the CNO family will be right behind me with all the support and help they can muster... it is so reassuring to know that they are there."

    - Heather Sinclair, a person living with Parkinson’s, Port Hope