Dialogue 101: Parkinson’s Awareness Month

Deb Gordon’s guest was Dr. James Beck, Ph.D, Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer at the Parkinson’s Foundation which funds research and offers a variety of support services for patients and their families.

“We work to train neurologists…we have a network of Centers of Excellence, where people can get the best care…we have a help line that’s available that provides a referral to physicians who are really experts…that’s so important to have that expert care, for a disease which can be difficult to manage as it progresses,” said Beck.

 

Most people are aware of Parkinson’s due to Muhammad Ali and Michael J. Fox speaking publicly about their personal experiences, but little is known about the disease, which affects one million Americans.

“This is a disease that not many people know about even though it’s the 2nd most common neurodegenerative disease in the U.S., after Alzheimer’s disease,” said Beck.

“When people have Parkinson’s disease it gets diagnosed through an interaction with a clinician, there’s no blood test, no brain scan…we’re not at the point yet where we have bio markers…to diagnose someone with Parkinson’s,” said Beck.

Spotlighted the Parkinson’s Unity Walk happening Saturday April 22 in Central Park, which raises money for Parkinson’s research, and also serves to educate the community about Parkinson’s disease.

“It’s where the Parkinson’s community comes together… PD can be isolating as a disease…but when you come out and see all the people with PD and their families, it really warms your heart, and it’s really inspiring, not only for people with PD, but also the community who are there trying to help them,” said Beck.

“It’s a wonderful event…we’ll be there handing out sunglasses…and educational materials about Parkinson’s disease, as well.”

On May 31st, The Parkinson’s Foundation will commemorate its 60th anniversary by hosting an anniversary fundraiser at the Bronx Botanical Gardens.

In addition, the Foundation is hosting a scientific symposium in New York on June 1st, where experts from around the world will come together to share ideas.

“We’ve brought together a number of scientists… to talk about the future of PD research…novel ways with which to engage clinicians…how the internet can engage with medicine…ways to stop Parkinson’s disease… things we can’t do right now,” said Beck.

“It’s called a ‘World Without Parkinson’s Disease’, and so we’ve asked all our speakers to think about what can happen in the next 20 years in their field, and I think it’s going to be a really exciting discussion that day.”

For more information about Parkinson’s disease, and ways to support those affected, visit www.pdf.org.  You can also call the Parkinson’s Foundation helpline at 1-800-457-6676.

 

–Deb Gordon/WCBS-FM

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