This year, World Brain Day had a very specific focus: to raise awareness about ending Parkinson’s disease. The neurological condition affecting almost 150,000 people in the UK and 1 in every 100 people over the age of 60 globally is the fastest growing neurological condition in the world.  

Parkinson’s UK estimates that UK numbers alone will have doubled by 2065 (PUK 2018) whilst ‘Ending Parkinson’s Disease’ notes that ‘Over the past twenty-five years, the number of people with the condition has jumped from 3 million to over 6 million’ worldwide.

Fig 1: ‘Ending Parkinson’s disease’ estimates and projections of the growing prevalence of Parkinson’s: found at endingpd.org

“The impact of Parkinson’s Disease extends throughout the whole body and reaches every corner of the world,”

said Claudia Trenkwalder, MD, President of the International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society. Her colleague, WFN President Prof. William Carroll added that brain health has never been a more vital topic than now, saying that,

“When the world unites against this crippling movement disorder on World Brain Day, we will demonstrate the power of advocacy and awareness.”

Professor Bas Bloem recently spoke at two of Parkinson’s Academy’s free webinars on the impact of COVID-19 on the Parkinson’s community, where he shared that ‘evidence suggests it is a ‘man-made disease’ related strongly to environmental pollution and the use of paraquat, a chemical being used in a widespread manner’ (Parkinson’s Academy 2020). 

Noting the adverse impact of stress on symptoms such as freezing and tremor, and the importance of managing stress to help maintain health within Parkinson’s, he also shared the essential nature of movement and exercise in both preventing, and maintaining maximum function when living with, Parkinson’s.

Noting that exercise and movement has a huge wealth of evidence demonstrating how it can slow the progression of Parkinson’s, Bas cited the Lancet: 2018, the V-TIME study (van der Kolk, 2019), imaging data and a growing body of other evidence as demonstrating the building of plasticity and flexibility in the brain. In a subsequent webinar looking exclusively at exercise, Bas was joined by colleague Fiona Lindop as they discussed the evidence in favour of exercise and the practicalities of encouraging exercise in those living with Parkinson’s.

Dr Ray Dorsey, another author of ‘Ending Parkinson’s Disease’ spoke about a ‘PACT’ we need to make to end Parkinson’s in a recent interview, highlighting the need to ‘Prevent, Advocate, Care and Treat’ – all essential elements leading to the ultimate demise of this impactful neurological condition. 

The authors of ‘Ending Parkinson’s’ are offering a series of free webcasts and interactive question and answer sessions currently, with the next taking place at 2pm EST on 29th July. 

Read an interview with co-author Ray Dorsey, find out more about the book ‘Ending Parkinson’s’, or listen to Parkinson’s Academy’s two webinars with Bas Bloem, ‘Exercise and Parkinson’s’ and ‘A UK perspective on the COVID impact on Parkinson’s‘ for more information on this essential topic. 

Watch our webinars

(Webinars were also run for multiple sclerosis and dementia, also highly relevant conditions to consider when discussing the importance of brain health.)

  

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