Parkinson’s Awareness Month

by Lisa McPhee, Content Writer Open Arms | April 24, 2023

selective focus photo of red tulips

The month of April in Canada is most often associated with melting snow, the start of spring and the Easter Bunny. The Parkinson Association of Alberta aspires that April will also become largely recognized as Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month. According to the month of April was chosen as Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month because it is the birth month of the first physician to describe the disease in 1817, Dr. James Parkinson. Later, in April of 2005, at a summit in Luxembourg, the red tulip was unveiled as the global symbol of Parkinson’s Disease. In addition to the iconic red tulip, the silver ribbon is the most donned color for Parkinson’s Awareness.

The most prominent and influential advocate for Parkinson’s Disease is beloved Canadian actor and author Michael J. Fox. In 1991, at the age of 29, Fox was diagnosed with the disease. He did not disclose this information to the public until 1998. In late 2000, he established the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. Today, it is considered the worlds largest non-profit funder of Parkinson’s drug development. It has contributed over 1 billion dollars to research programs to date. The Foundations goal is to systematically place their organization out of business by finding a cure for the disease. Michael J. Fox himself has been labelled by the New York Times as “the most credible voice on Parkinson’s research in the world.”

According to the Cleveland Clinic, Parkinson’s Disease is the second most common among age related degenerative brain diseases. If affects 1% of those over the age of 60 and can occur as early as the age of 20, but that is exceptional. It also occurs in men marginally more than women. It is most often caused by either genetics or exposures to toxins like pesticides. The disease itself attacks the basal ganglia in the brain and causes a major shift in the brain chemistry. The chemicals affected are termed as neurotransmitters, whose main function is to send signals to the muscle groups triggering them to move. The neurotransmitter chemical dopamine is principally diminished in those with Parkinson’s Disease. Dopamine is responsible for the fine tuning of movements; with this deficiency it causes the signature jerking movements perceived in those inflicted.

Early non-motor signs of the disease include loss of smell, drooling, GI problems including constipation, mask-like facial expressions, and sleep issues including restless leg syndrome. Common motor related signs include slowed movements, tremors when muscles are at rest, unstable posture or walking gait, rigidity or stiffness in joints, difficulty swallowing, and blinking less often.

Currently, the disease is life-long and incurable. Specific symptoms are often treated with medications. Secondary treatments include deep brain stimulation and utilizes a brain implant that delivers a mild electrical current.

For the remainder of April there is a donation event for the Parkinson Association of Alberta that will have a “double impact!” Up to $20,000 of the donations made in April will be matched dollar for dollar by a community donor.

Although the month is almost over, Albertans still have ways to show support to those who are living with Parkinson’s Disease. The following events are ongoing:

  1. Blind Enthusiasm Pints for Parkinson’s – For the month of April, our friends at Blind Enthusiasm are donating back to spread awareness for Parkinson Awareness month! They are donating a $1/pint & $.50/half pint from all sales for the Month of April.
  2. Karma class at Yoga Santosha – For the entire month of April. Visit Yoga Santosha’s website for more information.
  3. Theoretically Brewing Co. Pints for Parkinson’s Available for the entire month of April.
  4. Cupcakes for a Cause in Red Deer  – For the entire month of April, make an order and have your cupcakes give back to the Parkinson community. Email Today!
  5. The Zone film screening Calgary Saturday April 29, 2023 12 pm – 3 pm Please visit the link above or contact the Parkinson’s Association of Alberta at 1-800-561-1911 or email for more information on this event.


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