‘Long Road to Hope’ Explores Global Efforts to Change Disease’s Course

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by Mary Chapman |

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A new documentary on Parkinson’s disease explores global efforts to research, treat, and prevent the progressive neurodegenerative disorder.

Called “The Long Road to Hope,” it was produced by the University of Rochester Center for Health + Technology (CHeT) and focuses on a dozen Parkinson’s patients in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands, largely members of the global alliance called PD Avengers that is working to end the disease.

The roughly hourlong documentary also features commentary from two neurologists and collaborators: Ray Dorsey with the University of Rochester Medical Center and Bas Bloem with Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands.

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Calling Parkinson’s “a largely preventable disease,” the film contends that effectively addressing it requires a concerted global effort and one that brings to bear the same levels of commitment and resources used successfully against diseases such as polio, human immunodeficiency virus or HIV, and breast cancer, according to a Rochester university press release.

“We need to change the course of Parkinson’s disease. We’ve changed the courses of other diseases in the past,” Dorsey says in the film. “The challenge to us as a community is to take action to: One, prevent Parkinson’s disease; two, care for everyone that’s affected by the disease; and three, treat the disease with novel and effective treatments to reduce the burden on those who already have the disease.”

“The Long Road to Hope” cites the benefits of exercise and good sleeping habits, and it favors undertakings that could mitigate Parkinson’s risk, like creating a healthier living environment by stopping the use of certain pesticides and chemicals. As it notes, “numerous environmental factors” are linked with Parkinson’s, including pesticides that are “nerve toxins.”

It also advocates for greater Parkinson’s research and better treatments.

“Parkinson’s is the world’s fastest-growing brain disease,” Dorsey states. “We need a better understanding of what its causes are so we can prevent it.”

At the same time, he adds, “for those who already have Parkinson’s disease, whether you’re one of the 1.2 million Americans with the disease or the up to 10 million people worldwide with the disease, the most effective medication for Parkinson’s disease is now over 50 years old.”

The documentary is supported by a grant from Roche and derives from ParkinsonTV, an English-language video series that began in 2017 by CHeT and Bloem’s team as a spinoff of a series begun in the Netherlands. The series’ third season, which may be viewed for free on the ParkinsonTV website, features “The Long Road to Hope” as well as episodes that spotlight people appearing in it.

It was directed and produced by Norman Yung, Alistair Glidden, and Iyad Amer.