Parkinson’s Awareness Month Begins With #FutureofPD Campaign

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by Mary Chapman |

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To mark the start of Parkinson’s Awareness Month, the Parkinson’s Foundation has kicked off its #FutureofPD Campaign, an initiative to call attention to the progressive neurodegenerative disorder and highlight what can be done to create a better future for the Parkinson’s disease community.

“Parkinson’s disease affects nearly one million Americans and that is expected to rise as the population ages,” John L. Lehr, president and CEO of the Parkinson’s Foundation, said in a press release. “This campaign highlights the role we all play in solving this complex disease, whether participating in research, finding expert care and resources, or tapping into the broader PD community.”

To raise awareness about Parkinson’s and the community’s needs and concerns, the organization is encouraging supporters to participate in its PD GENEration: Mapping the Future of Parkinson’s Disease study, a nationwide effort to make genetic counseling more available for Parkinson’s patients in the U.S.

Because genetic testing and counseling are often unaffordable and not covered by insurance, they can be out of reach for many. As a result, most patients are unaware if they carry genetic changes in Parkinson’s-related genes. The GENEration study is offering free online and in-person genetic testing and counseling, in English and Spanish.

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Early results have demonstrated the benefits of providing extensive genetic testing and counseling to Parkinson’s patients.

As part of this month’s efforts. the Foundation is also highlighting the work of the Global Care Network, which can provide Parkinson’s patients with information to help them access high-quality care and build a team of specialists to help them better manage their disease, and work with them on issues such as diet, exercise, and mobility.

Patients are invited to connect with Parkinson’s specialists by calling its free bilingual Helpline at 1-800-4PD-INFO.

The organization has also released two national public service announcements (PSAs). One introduces this year’s “Moving Day, A Walk for Parkinson’s” nationwide fundraising effort with information about how people can participate at local events. The second profiles a group of people whose experiences with the Foundation led them to become advocates for patients and their loved ones.

One such advocate is Tyaisha Blount Dillion, who was diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson’s disease at age 35 — eight years ago.

“Before my son was born, I was at a low point facing the possibility of being in a wheelchair. But now keeping up with him is my motivation to stay active,” Blount Dillion said. “For my PD future, it’s all about sustainability for my physical health.”

The Parkinson’s Foundation’s campaign is sponsored by Sunovion. Go here for more ways to participate in the Foundation’s Parkinson’s Awareness Month activities.