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Learn about Parkinson's

Below, you’ll find a quick summary to help you understand Parkinson’s. If you’re looking for information to share with your supporters, load our ‘Quick Hits’ page with meaningful bullets on the impact of Parkinson’s and the role of Parkinson Canada in its management.

Looking to learn more, or share a visual with your supporters? Our Infographic on the impact of Parkinson’s shares some big news that you might not have known. For example, more than 25 people in Canada are diagnosed with Parkinson’s every day!

View short bulleted facts on Parkinson's to share with your supporters. On the note of impact, details on the difference your fundraising makes can be found here.

Parkinson’s Disease: An Overview

Parkinson’s is a disease of the brain that touches almost every aspect of daily living including: movement, mood, speech, ability to smell, eating and drinking, sleep, and processing cognitive information. 

Parkinson’s can be present for years before being diagnosed. Currently there is no cure.  The treatments available address symptom management, but fail to slow down the progress of the disease itself.

  1. Parkinson’s affects about 7 million people globally. 
  2. Right now in Canada some 100,000 individuals with Parkinson’s are struggling with the stigma and daily challenges of living with this very complex neurological disease. 
  3. By 2031, the Parkinson’s population in Canada over the age of 40 is anticipated to increase by 65% and those over the age of 65 with Parkinson’s disease will more than double to 144,000.  
  4. More than 25 people a day are diagnosed with Parkinson’s in Canada.

While every person’s experience with Parkinson’s is unique, all share in a common desire to live the best quality of life possible, maintaining hope as we continue the global quest for a cure. While it is true that 12% of those over the age of 65 will be diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease it is no longer a disease of the elderly.  In fact, 5-10% of cases occur in people under the age of 50, and many more incidences of Young Onset Parkinson’s among those in their thirties.

Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative disease. Movement is normally controlled by dopamine, a chemical that carries signals between the nerves in the brain. When cells that normally produce dopamine die, the symptoms of Parkinson’s appear. These symptoms are progressive and very individual. Not everyone experiences all of the symptoms of Parkinson's, and people do experience them differently. The list below includes just some of the challenges faced by people living witih Parkinson's.

Most Common Motor Symptoms
Other Symptoms
  • Tremor
  • Rigidity (Stiffness)
  • Akinesia/Bradykinesia (Slowness of Movements)
  • Postural Instability
  • Fatigue
  • Soft speech
  • Challenges with fine motor control (i.e. handwriting)
  • Stooped Posture
  • Constipation
  • Sleep Disturbance
  • Memory and Cognition
  • Depression

The following therapies can also help manage the symptoms:

  • Physical therapy helps mobility, flexibility and balance
  • Occupational therapy helps with daily activities
  • Speech therapy helps with voice control
  • Exercise helps muscles and joints and improves overall health and well-being

Parkinson’s can progress at a different rate for each person. As symptoms change, medication will need to be adjusted. Beyond the physical symptoms, non-motor complications may occur. These are not always recognized, and sometimes precede a diagnosis of Parkinson’s becoming more complex as the condition progresses. Non-symptoms may include depression, difficulty swallowing, sexual problems or cognitive changes. It is important to find a doctor who is knowledgeable about Parkinson’s, ideally a neurologist. By working with a health-care team, a treatment plan can be created that will meet the person’s individual needs.