Thank you, Middle Georgia, for strengthening the hands of those of us battling Parkinson’s disease.
Around the world, April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month and April 11 is World Parkinson’s Day. In Central Georgia, we observe PD Awareness Month by showcasing new assistance programs, new civic support organizations, and new sources of information for the growing number of people with Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s disease is the fastest growing neurodegenerative disease in the world. The incidence is expected to double by 2040, overtaking Alzheimer’s disease as the leading brain disorder.
Georgia is expected to be particularly affected due to our predominantly rural dominance and heavy use of insecticides and pesticides. Our growing population of military retirees brings with them service exposure to petrochemicals (like Agent Orange) linked to PM.
The Parkinson Foundation estimates, quite conservatively, that Georgia has 20,600 cases of PD, 500 in central Georgia and 200 to 300 in counties bordering Macon-Bibb County.
Parkinson’s disease results from the death of midbrain nerve cells that produce dopamine and the deposition of an abnormal protein called alpha-synuclein in many areas of the brain.
The chemical dopamine helps control movement, such as walking, and can affect many other internal systems, including the urinary, gastrointestinal, and balance systems.
“The disease has multiple causes, including environmental hazards – air pollution, certain industrial solvents, and certain pesticides,” write leading Parkinson’s disease experts Drs. Ray Dorsey, Todd Sherer, Bastiaan R. Bloem and Michael Okun in their authoritative recent book “Ending Parkinson’s: A Prescription for Change”.
“Up to 40% of people with Parkinson’s disease will eventually require nursing home care, and the burden of caregiving is immense. Life expectancy is slightly reduced and many die of falls or pneumonia.
Last year, Middle Georgia added a groundbreaking PD exercise and support program (PD Fit) to Middle Georgia State University, launched with a grant from the Peyton Anderson Foundation. Anderson’s longtime frontman Ed Sell led the $40,000 grant just before his death from complications of Parkinson’s disease.
PD Fit has its own Facebook page: PDFit Macon, Ga | Facebook
Additionally, the Macon-based Me Over PD Foundation has launched its shareable website to guide people with newly diagnosed Parkinson’s disease. The foundation’s free electronic newsletter Parkinson’s Pro-Activities has over 455 subscribers in North America.
Dean Jean Sumner and the Mercer University School of Medicine continued their strong support for Parkinson’s disease education.
Dr. Sumner worked with the Anderson and MOPD foundations in 2019 to distribute 2,000 copies of the acclaimed book “Counterpunch: Duking It Out With Parkinson’s” to more than 375 frontline medical practices across Georgia. Mercer is now helping distribute Central Georgia PD Resource Cards to area medical practices.
Gil Thelen, retired editor, publisher and president of the Tampa Tribune, is president of the Me Over PD Foundation in Macon. contact him to [email protected] and 813-787-3886 for more information on any of the Me Over PD programs.