April may be Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month, but scientists and researchers around the world work tirelessly on developing new treatments—and potential cures—year-round.
This month, Pride Mobility is shining a light on Parkinson’s Disease. People living with Parkinson’s can experience long-term impacts on their mobility (like impaired balance and changes in posture) as the disease progresses, and this guide is designed to increase awareness of these challenges and shed light on the organizations supporting research efforts.
If you’re looking to learn more about Parkinson’s Disease or find a non-profit organization to support this month, this is the guide for you.
Parkinson’s Disease is a lifelong condition that primarily impacts the nervous system. People living with Parkinson’s typically experience four major symptoms:
- Tremors – Shaking is often one of the first noticeable symptoms of Parkinson’s, and tremors typically begin in the hands, feet, or jaw.
- Rigidity – Muscle stiffness and resistance to movement can make basic mobility difficult for people living with Parkinson’s. Rigidity can also lead to chronic aches.
- Bradykinesia – Bradykinesia describes the slowing down of automatic movements (like facial expression) and can increase the difficulty of everyday tasks like bathing and getting dressed.
- Posture changes – Balance challenges and changes in posture can impair mobility and increase fall risks for people living with Parkinson’s.
Along with these primary symptoms, people living with Parkinson’s might also experience additional issues like:
- Depression and mood changes
- Difficulty chewing and swallowing
- Changing speech and difficulty speaking
- Urinary issues
- Sleep disruption
- Dementia, delusions, and other cognitive conditions
- Hypotension (or a drop in blood pressure)
- Fatigue and loss of energy
Since Parkinson’s is a degenerative disorder, it can worsen with time. But the speed at which symptoms progress varies from person to person, so it can be difficult for people living with the disease to predict what their lives may look like in the future.
While symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease have been described in both Eastern and Western ancient texts (like the Caraka Samhita of Ayurvedic Medicine and the Old Testament), the disease was first described as a neurological disorder by James Parkinson in 1817. Fellow researchers later petitioned to name the disease after him.
While scientists still haven’t discovered a cure for Parkinson’s Disease, pharmaceutical and surgical treatments have been developed throughout the last few decades that can improve quality of life and help people living with the disease manage their symptoms. More recent discoveries in Parkinson’s research include the identification of possible genetic and environmental risk factors for developing the disease.
Luckily, further research is currently a priority for medical experts in the US. In 2021, the National Institutes of Health directed 254 million dollars to Parkinson’s Disease research, and numerous non-profit organizations are leading the charge on additional fundraising efforts.
If you’re interested in supporting a non-profit organization dedicated to raising funds for Parkinson’s Disease research, the charities below are all excellent candidates.
 National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Parkinson’s Disease. https://www.ninds.nih.gov/health-information/disorders/parkinsons-disease
 Neuroscience Bulletin. Milestones of Parkinson’s Disease Research: 200 Years of History and Beyond. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5636740/
 National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Focus on Parkinson’s Disease Research. https://www.ninds.nih.gov/current-research/focus-disorders/focus-parkinsons-disease-research
American Parkinson Disease Association
The American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA) is one of the largest US-based organizations focused on improving the lives of people living with the disease. They primarily use their funding to:
- Provide patient services and educational programs to people living with the disease and their families
- Improve public awareness of the disease and encourage people to get engaged in conversations about Parkinson’s
- Support research projects working on innovative treatments and potential cures
The Parkinson’s Foundation is a community of caregivers, scientists, advocates, volunteers and donors focused on improving the lives of people living with Parkinson’s. While they offer support to Parkinson’s patients and their families, they’re also known for their notable fundraising efforts. They recently financially supported one of the largest clinical studies of Parkinson’s Disease, an ongoing project that tests for clinically relevant genetic markers.
As one of the most well-known people living with Parkinson’s Disease, actor Michael J. Fox’s charitable organization seeks to:
- Improve public knowledge about the lived experiences of Parkinson’s patients
- Engage patients and their caretakers in research and education efforts
- Develop an objective test to detect Parkinson’s Disease
The last bullet is a unique one: testing could help detect the disease earlier, which could facilitate earlier treatment and help patients prepare to live with the condition.
Parkinson Foundation Western Pennsylvania is a regional non-profit that provides support, services and education for people living with Parkinson’s, their families and their caretakers. The organization also raises funds to contribute to ongoing scientific research to discover the cause of the disease and develop cures.
While Parkinson’s Disease can create lifelong challenges for people living with the condition, the future is bright. With access to treatment and symptom management tools, people living with Parkinson’s can live long, fulfilling lives.
This April, you can get engaged in the conversation about Parkinson’s Disease by learning more about the condition, contributing to a non-profit organization that aims to better the lives of Parkinson’s patients, and advocating for additional research funding in your community and beyond.
At Pride Mobility, we’re proud to offer mobility products that support active lifestyles. Our electric wheelchairs, mobility scooters, and lift chairs are designed by a dedicated team of engineers, medical experts, and people who rely on mobility tools in their everyday lives. To learn more about our products and services, visit a Pride Mobility dealer near you.
American Parkinson Disease Association. April is Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month. Why Does That Matter?. https://www.apdaparkinson.org/article/dd-s20-article-4/
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Parkinson’s Disease. https://www.ninds.nih.gov/health-information/disorders/parkinsons-disease
Neuroscience Bulletin. Milestones of Parkinson’s Disease Research: 200 Years of History and Beyond. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5636740/
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Focus on Parkinson’s Disease Research. https://www.ninds.nih.gov/current-research/focus-disorders/focus-parkinsons-disease-research
APDA. About APDA. https://www.apdaparkinson.org/about-apda/
Parkinson’s Foundation. Vision & Mission. https://www.parkinson.org/about-us/vision-mission
Parkinson’s Foundation. PD GENEration: Mapping the Future of Parkinson’s Disease. https://www.parkinson.org/advancing-research/our-research/pdgeneration
The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. Our Agenda. https://www.michaeljfox.org/our-agenda
Parkinson Foundation Western Pennsylvania. Mission Statement. https://pfwpa.org/about/