World Parkinson’s Day was instituted on April 11th, 1997 to commemorate the birthday of Dr. James Parkinson, the man who first formally identified the disease nearly 200 years ago and penned the 1817 work—“An Essay on the Shaking Palsy.”
Today, the month of April marks the resurgence from winter, the beginning of allergy season, and most importantly, Parkinson’s Awareness Month.
According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, Parkinson’s disease currently impacts the lives of nearly one million people in the United States and five million people worldwide and can be attributed to a variety of genetic, environmental, and aging factors.
Parkinson’s disease is characterized as a chronic, progressive condition that involves the gradual degeneration of dopaminergic nerve cells in the brain.
While there are no objective tests to diagnose the disease, the current criteria for diagnosis are based on cardinal motor symptoms. These motor symptoms include tremor, slowness of movement, muscle stiffness, balance problems, and loss of short-term memory. Parkinson’s disease can manifest itself in the form of non-motor symptoms like depression, dementia, fatigue, sleep problems, digestive problems, loss of self-esteem, and stress, as well.
While there is no known cure for Parkinson’s disease, great strides are being made into the cause and treatment options, as evident by International Stem Cell Corporation’s (ISCO) newest research developments.
Recently, Parkinson’s disease patient and Australian real estate mogul Kevin Weeks underwent a clinical trial in which 30 million neural stem cells were implanted into 14 different parts of his brain, an unprecedented technology developed by ISCO scientists resulting in improved motor functions.