…Continued from yesterday’s blog

Neurotransmitters tend to follow their own specific pathways in the CNS, and this fact links directly to Parkinson’s Disease. Parkinson’s Disease is the result of a degradation of the Dopamine system. The actual cause of this breakdown is not known, but the effect is that Dopamine production and nerve transmission along the “Dopaminergic” pathways – nerve pathways which use Dopamine to communicate – decrease. As Dopamine levels drop, the coordinated and well-organized neural system begins to malfunction. In the case of Parkinson’s Disease, motor-control is compromised, leading to symptoms such as tremor, slow movement, muscle rigidity, impaired posture and balance, loss of automatic movements and speech changes.

For me, personally, the “Aha!” moment came when I first heard the words “Parkinson’s-like symptoms” in my university class… Compromised dopaminergic pathway β†’ gradual loss of motor control β†’ Parkinson’s symptoms. I realized that I was studying EXACTLY the neural mechanisms underlying Parkinson’s Disease. I began to understand what, at a neurological level, some of was happening for the gentleman I had been working with.

The not-so-good news is that treating a disease like Parkinson’s is not a simple matter of a pill which kills a “bug”. The problem is a loss of Dopamine resulting from deteriorating dopaminergic neural pathways; the nerve cells are dying and the pathways losing their ability to transmit information. As yet, there is no reliable way to rebuild a broken neural pathway. Medications can boost the amount of Dopamine, but if the pathway is not functioning, eventually even that no longer helps.

The good news is that researchers around the globe are working to better understand the causes of this disease in order to develop more effective treatments and, ultimately, preventative measures or even the ability to reverse the damage.

I hope this blog will be your “Aha!” moment, when you think of someone you know who has Parkinson’s Disease, and you realize there IS something you can do to help: you can learn more about Parkinson’s Disease, and you can contribute to Parkinson’s research. I am personally grateful to Drs. Rajput (there are TWO of them – father and son). They have not only made a world-class contribution to the global understanding of Parkinson’s Disease and other movement disorders, but they have also provided very kind and professional medical support to my mother who, as you know, also struggles with Parkinson’s Disease.

Here are a few of the reasons I am asking you to financially support the Royal University Hospital Foundation:

1. There are people you know who have, or who will develop, Parkinson’s Disease
2. This funding supports world-class researchers
3. I have completed my 10,000 Kettlebell swings (actually, I’m at 11200) πŸ˜€

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