Parkinson’s Awareness Week in the U.K. is an annual occasion that begins on World Parkinson’s Day on April 11 and ends on April 17 every year. Its purpose is to raise awareness about Parkinson’s across the U.K. and provide support to those living with the condition. Parkinson’s is a rare nervous system disorder that affects movement. The symptoms start gradually in middle-aged and old people, with sometimes a barely noticeable tremor in one hand. There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, further emphasizing the importance of Parkinson’s Awareness Week which features sensitization and fundraising events for the research and treatment of Parkinson’s.
History of Parkinson's Awareness Week
World Parkinson’s Day on April 11 started in 1997 to honor Dr. James Parkinson, the English surgeon who first identified the disease 200 years ago. Today, in the United Kingdom, a full week is dedicated to celebrating Parkinson’s Awareness week.
Parkinson was born in London in 1755. He was also interested in politics and was a political activist of the London Corresponding Society (L.C.S.). However, in 1794, after being implicated in a fake conspiracy to assassinate King George, he gave up his political ambition to focus his energy on medicine. In 1817, he published the famous “Essay on the Shaking Palsy” with several other medical papers. In the Shaking Palsy, Parkinson described a syndrome that he had observed in six persons. Three of these individuals were patients, two were people he met in the street, and one was observed from a distance. He observed the degenerative symptoms of the disease and its effect on posture, gait, and the occurrence of tremors. At that time, there was very limited research on tremors, and Parkinson named this syndrome the Shaking Palsy or Paralysis Agitans.
Today, there are several drug treatments to control the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Levodopa drug treatment was the first breakthrough in treating Parkinson’s in 1969. This is the same year Mali Jenkins founded the Parkinson’s Disease Society, now called Parkinson’s U.K., in a one-room office in Putney, London. Parkinson’s U.K. has grown into a dynamic network of health and social care professionals, researchers, and volunteers. Their first local Parkinson’s group which started in 1970 now has around 365 local groups across the U.K., providing support and friendship to people affected by Parkinson’s.
Parkinson's Awareness Week timeline
Jenkins establishes the Parkinson's Disease Society, now called Parkinson's U.K., in a one-room office in Putney, London.
Levodopa drug treatment becomes the first breakthrough in the treatment of Parkinson's.
Parkinson's U.K. launches Brain Bank to facilitate crucial research into Parkinson's by providing brain tissue to researchers to develop better treatments.
Two genes associated with inherited Parkinson's are discovered, providing a better understanding of the causes of Parkinson's.
Parkinson's Awareness Week FAQs
What color represents Parkinson's disease?
The tulip in red is for Parkinson’s disease awareness. J.W.S. Van der Wereld, a Dutch horticulturist with Parkinson’s disease, created it.
What is the origin of the name, Parkinson's disease?
Parkinson’s disease is named after James Parkinson, who first characterized shaking palsy in 1817. We trace when and why the shaking palsy became Parkinson’s disease in the bicentennial year of this publication.
Is Parkinson's disease inherited?
About 15% of patients with Parkinson’s disease have a family history of the disease, and genetic mutations in a group of genes — LRRK2, PARK2, PARK7, PINK1, or the SNCA gene — can cause family-linked instances.
How to Observe Parkinson's Awareness Week
Walk, run or cycle for Parkinson’s
Join a Parkinson’s Fundraising group and walk, run, or cycle to raise money to support people affected by the disease. Only speaking about Parkinson’s will not generate the level of support needed to care for people living with Parkinson’s. Every money you raise will go a long way in funding therapies, physical and mental health support, training, and research.
Help create awareness about Parkinson’s disease
You can change the attitude of the public towards people suffering from Parkinson's by creating awareness. Sharing useful information about Parkinson’s on podcasts, social media, and news publications is a great way to sensitize the general public and draw their attention to the existence of Parkinson’s.
Attend Parkinson’s events
Whether virtual or in-person, there are lots of great Parkinson’s events you can attend. There are educational seminars, fitness classes, webinars, and more. Take part in any one of your choices and learn more about the rare nervous system disease.
5 Interesting Facts About Parkinson’s
One in every 500 people has Parkinson’s
One person in every 500 people living in the U.K. has Parkinson’s disease, bringing the figure to approximately 120,000 affected people.
Parkinson’s mostly affects middle-aged and elderly people
Age is the highest risk factor for having Parkinson’s disease because it usually affects those aged over 50.
Freezing is a common symptom of Parkinson’s
Freezing or muscular rigidity is one of the most common motor symptoms of Parkinson's.
Parkinson’s and depression
About 50% of people with Parkinson’s will suffer from depression or anxiety at some point during their illness.
One person is diagnosed every hour
Every hour, one person is told that they have Parkinson's disease.
Why Parkinson's Awareness Week is Important
It’s an opportunity to raise awareness
Parkinson's Awareness Week is a once-in-a-year opportunity to join others in raising awareness about Parkinson’s disease. Since there is no cure for Parkinson’s, it’s an occasion to raise the much-needed funds to support people living with the disease.
It changes the public’s attitude
We get to join online and real-life campaigns geared towards making the public sensitive to the suffering of people living with Parkinson’s. We are also able to help patients and their relatives reach more people affected by the condition.
It raises funds for treatment and research
By taking part in fundraising events, we excite the attention of the public towards Parkinson’s and raise funds for the research and treatment of the condition. During these events, we also collect and distribute information on Parkinson’s.
Parkinson's Awareness Week dates