Despite having no family history of Parkinson's Disease or Motor Neurone Disease, I'm president of local Montgomeryshire branches of both. So called today by a PD lunch at the Royal Oak where members were enjoying a lunch to mark the 200th anniversary of an essay written by Dr James Parkinson on The Shaking Palsy, the first recognition of the condition Peter to be named after him. He observed that if a patient placed a trembling arm on a table and it stopped shaking, the patient did not have PD, or what he called The Shaking Palsy. If it continued to shake, the patient did suffer from the condition. I'm sure Dr Parkinson would be disappointed if he were alive today to observe that there is not a total cure for the condition. There have certainly been improvements in treatment, and better controls enabling many who live with PD to enjoy much more full and active lives. April 11th is still designated World Parkinson's Disease Day because it was Dr Parkinson's birthday.
The cause of Parkinson's was not established until the 1950s, when it became understood that the cause is cell damage in the mid-brain leading to a decrease in the amount of dopamine produced. This causes neurones to fire uncontrollably which leads to the patients loss of control. Since then drugs have been developed to correct the dopamine difficiency, and later a procedure known as 'deep brain stimulation' further improved treatment. Dr Parkinson might have hoped for more in 200 yrs.
Through my involvement with people living with neurological diseases, I've learned quite a bit about them. Many have become good friends. I'm sure there will someday be a complete treatment which reverses the progression of PD and not just controls it. Coincidentally, there is discussion in today's news about promising research which may deliver progress. I've read this sort of report before. We will have to wait and see.
And finally, I never fail to be emotionally effected by just how accepting of the condition those living with PD are. Invariably they just get on with life and make the best of it. When I accepted the wonderful Ann Smedley's invitation to be president of the Montgomeryshire branch of PD, I had not realised how rewarding it would be.