Advocate says only seeing tip of iceberg

Pat Evans and Mayor Shawn Pankow
Pat Evans asked Mayor Shawn Pankow to proclaim April as Parkinson’s Awareness month in Smiths Falls. Photo credit: Sally Smith.
Posted on: March 19, 2019

Pat Evans, speaking on behalf of Parkinson’s Canada, Ottawa and Eastern Ontario, addressed Council Monday evening, amidst the honking, hollering and dog barking taking place outside council chambers.

Acknowledging she had Parkinson’s, she asked for some help with the visual presentation.

There’s a growth diagnosis of Parkinson’s in this area Evans said, and continued with a question. “What does it mean for the future?”

Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative disease and is faster growing than epilepsy; according to Evans’ research, it is the fastest growing neurological condition in the world. “For sure,” she said, “it’s because of aging but the demographic is growing; even more than that, they think it has to do with industrialization.”

Parkinson’s Disease manifests with both motor and non-motor symptoms, and affects more men than women. The average age of onset is 60 but 10-15 percent are under 50.

There is no medicine that cures it, but Evans quite candidly admits she has had Parkinson’s for 12 years — “a less intrusive form. Everybody is different,” she said.

About ten years ago, Evans said, the effect of exercise on Parkinson’s began to be studied. “It’s really the best. It needs to be started very early; it needs to increase heart rate with intense and regular exercise based on big movement.” With Parkinson’s, movements becomes very small and it’s important to focus on big movement, she said, citing 30 minutes a day, three times a week. She also said there has been some dance research done

about Parkinson’s and dance at the National Ballet School.

What other treatment is available, as well as intense, regular exercise? Evans suggested seeing a movement disorder specialist (unfortunately there isn’t one in Lanark). There is a neurologist at the Carleton Place Hospital, however, who says about 75 percent of her practice is Parkinson’s related.

The issue is educating people about the disease. Men are 1.4 times more likely to get Parkinson’s. Evans asked the question “could it be men don’t like to talk to doctors? Are they worried about losing their driver’s licence (which is important in rural areas) or even their job? Maybe they don’t see the benefit of being diagnosed, or don’t think anything can be done. They might not realize they have Parkinson’s — for example, they don’t have a tremor.”

Evans asked council members and those in council chambers to be her emissaries in getting the word out. “Use every opportunity to talk about it, to work against the stigma.

“We’ve got to educate each other because we’ve got to get ready,” she says. It’s her belief that Parkinson’s is a “pandemic.”

On September 7, the Saturday after Labour Day, the Superwalk for Parkinson’s takes place in Perth. Last year $42,000 was raised. Evans said tulips would be sold in April for Parkinson’s.

Mayor Pankow declared April as Parkinson’s Awareness month in Smiths Falls.

Article by Sally Smith