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2017: Parkinson's has it's 200th birthday!

Oh no! Did you miss the invite? No need to stress, there'll be another worldwide celebration and awareness drive next April. Which begs the question, why April?

Maybe the best way to answer that question is by asking two other questions.

Firstly, can anyone tell me what these two pictures have in common and secondly, what dark secret one of these images hiding? Not sure? Not to worry, educational blog to the rescue...and to be honest, until recently I didn't even know the answer to one of those questions.

Let me take you on a journey of discovery to whet that curious appetite of yours. In 1817 a charming young chap by the name of James Parkinson published an essay describing what was then widely known as the 'shaking palsy', later known as Parkinson's disease to pay homage to the author's description and insight into the condition. Mr Parkinson was born on the 11th April 1755, which answers our first question - the link between the two images. World Parkinson's day is celebrated (to increase worldwide awareness) on the birthday of the very man that described (in writing) the condition. You may have noticed that above I used the title Mr NOT Dr. - this brings us to the answer of the second question. The dark little secret of the 1st image above.....that is not the right James Parkinson of Parkinson's fame. The James Parkinson that wrote the essay on the 'shaking Palsy' was neither a Dr. nor photographed...ever (if I've piqued your curiosity check out

Now back to the history, Mr Parkinson may have been the famed scientist that described Parkinson's disease but it was a French Neurologist 'Jean-Martin Charcot' that described in detail the physical changes and clinical spectrum for identifying the condition. Not only that, Charcot made it his mission to tell the whole world about this new classification of previously separated conditions. From these early works more than 200yrs ago a slew of researchers (too many to name here) have worked on further increasing our knowledge on all of the aspects of Parkinson's and the best treatment methods to date (blog pending release).

Unfortunately, even two centuries of research can't quite pin down the cause of Parkinson's and that is most likely due to the idea that there is not one single cause but a range of causes that end with the same effects. The possible causes keeping many a researcher awake include; Genetic factors, environmental triggers (pesticides, toxins, industrial chemicals), a combo of the last two, traumatic head injury.

Whatever the cause/s may be it doesn't change the fact that the disease as of yet is incurable, but as you'll discover with me in future posts - there are methods that seem to be able to slow down the progression and simultaneously maintain and in some cases improve functional ability.

Wow, that was a bit longer than I was expecting thanks for reading all the way through.

Join me in the next blog where we look at the tell tale symptoms and the not so visible ones (hint - it's a bit like the iceberg that sank the titanic and indirectly sank the Titan).

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