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Since 1969, Parkinson Society British Columbia has served to empower the Parkinson’s community by providing resources and services to enable self-management, self-reliance, and self-advocacy.

Every year, we dedicate the month of April to raising awareness of the unique experiences of people with Parkinson's, and the needs of our community. April Awareness Month is an opportunity to engage the public in expanding their understanding of Parkinson's, and the profound effects it has on the lives of over 13,000 British Columbians living with the disease.

This April, we want to spread the message that Parkinson's is more than a tremorThe disease can affect all aspects of one's life, and there is no cure.

Our 2020 campaign highlights: 

  • Personal journeys shared by people with Parkinson's, their families, and carepartners.
  • The ambiguity of Parkinson's, and the uniqueness of each individual's symptoms, experiences, and disease progression.
  • Advocacy issues affecting the Parkinson's community across British Columbia. 

In recognition of Parkinson's Awareness Month, and World Parkinson’s Day on April 11, we are encouraging individuals affected by the disease to share their experiences through our #MoreThanATremor campaign.

While most people have heard of Parkinson's disease, the breadth of symptoms experienced, and ripple effect the disease has on friends, family, and the healthcare system, are lesser understood. With approximately 13,000 people affected by the condition, Parkinson's is the second most common neurological disorder after Alzheimer's - yet it receives considerably less attention.


Get Informed

 

Show your support by learning about Parkinson's disease!

Parkinson's is widely misunderstood and stigmatized. The first step to advocating for the Parkinson's community is understanding their condition, needs, and the challenges they face.

What causes Parkinson's disease?

Parkinson's disease is caused by a degeneration of the cells which produce dopamine in the substantia nigra area of the brain. It is not known why the cells are damaged or destroyed although there are many theories. It is possible that genetics and the environment work together to cause Parkinson's. Much more research is needed to completely understand how, why and when this disorder occurs. The symptoms of Parkinson's appear when over half of the dopamine-producing cells are lost.

Dopamine is a brain neurotransmitter which sends signals from one nerve cell to another. It affects the parts of the brain which control smooth, voluntary movements such as walking, writing, throwing a ball or buttoning a shirt.

Dopamine is also essential for involuntary movements including control of: blood pressure and bowel function.

Loss of dopamine can also affect mood and thinking.

How is Parkinson's diagnosed?

There are no specific brain scans or laboratory tests to confirm the diagnosis of Parkinson's. Neurologists diagnose it with a careful evaluation of a person's medical history and a physical examination. Tests may be done to rule out other conditions which may resemble Parkinson's.

Is there a cure?

At the present time there is no known cure, however many people live full, productive lives. With the treatment that is now available, life expectancy for someone with Parkinson's is fairly normal. Each year, more and improved treatments are being introduced.

Who develops Parkinson's? How prevalent is it?

There are approximately 100,000 people with Parkinson's in Canada, approximately 13,000 in British Columbia. Up to 20% of individuals with Parkinson's develop symptoms before the age of 60. This is known as Young Onset Parkinson's. Parkinson's is usually diagnosed between the ages of 55 and 65, with 60 being the average age of diagnosis. Parkinson's affects 1% of adults over the age of 65 and is slightly more common in men.

Is Parkinson's genetic?

A genetic cause of Parkinson's appears in only a very small number of cases, approximately 5% – 10%. Where it may appear to run in families, researchers are looking at environmental factors shared by the family or community in addition to examining potential genetic links. The vast majority of cases of Parkinson's disease are from unknown causes.

What are the symptoms?

Most common motor symptoms are:

  • Resting tremor – repetitive shaking movements occurring in the arms and/or legs at rest. (Tremors are the first symptom to appear in about 70% of people with Parkinson's.)
  • Rigidity – increased stiffness in muscles and joints.
  • Bradykinesia – slowness of movement, including all actions such as walking and writing.
  • Lack of coordination – postural impairment or loss of balance.

Other symptoms:

  • Hypomimia – reduced facial expression, making a person appear uninterested or sad when they are not.
  • Hypophonia – speaking in a very soft voice. This may involve deterioration in the rhythm and quality of the voice.
  • Micrographia – small, cramped handwriting.
  • Cognitive and mood changes, including:
    • Depression
    • Anxiety
    • Forgetfulness and confusion
    • loss of impulse control
    • Dementia, hallucinations
    • Delusions
  • Urinary problems
  • Pain
  • Constipation

How does Parkinson's progress? What can be expected?

Early symptoms generally occur gradually, and progress more rapidly in some people than others. The tremor may begin to interfere with daily activities, and other symptoms may appear. Parkinson is progressive, meaning the symptoms may worsen over time, and the rate of this progression is different for each person. There is no way of knowing how slowly or quickly Parkinson's may progress. Parkinson's is, however, described as the most slowly progressing neurological disorder.

Does Parkinson's affect mental health?

Mental illness is a term used to describe a disruption in the balance between mind, body and spirit and a change in one's mental or emotional well-being. Psychological symptoms of Parkinson's are considered to be as important as the physical symptoms.

Some people feel there is a stigma associated with mental health issues and some may still feel that psychological symptoms are an example of personal weakness. Do not allow these preconceptions to stop you from talking to your healthcare professionals and getting the help you need!

Note to caregivers:

Some caregivers report that the psychological changes that can accompany Parkinson's are more difficult to deal with than the physical changes. It is therefore even more important for caregivers to look after themselves.

Adapted from Mind, Mood and Memory, published by the National Parkinson Foundation. 

If it's not Parkinson's, what else could it be?

There are many causes of tremors and other symptoms associated with Parkinson's disease and it may take time to make an accurate diagnosis. A neurologist who specializes in movement disorders is the best person to make or confirm a diagnosis. The following information describes other disorders that may be confused with Parkinson's.

Many of the conditions described in this section are extremely rare.

Essential Tremor (ET)
Sources: International Essential Tremor FoundationThe Mayo Clinic

Essential Tremor is a chronic neurological condition characterized by involuntary, rhythmic tremor of a body part. The most frequently affected areas of the body are the hands, arms and head, followed by the voice, tongue, legs, or trunk.

ET is considered a slowly progressive disorder although for some people it may be relatively non-progressive and the tremor may be mild throughout life. Essential tremor isn't caused by other conditions and it is a common movement disorder.

Medication is a common treatment and many people with ET benefit from drug therapy, however not everyone is a candidate for the medications used to treat ET.

Surgery may be suggested to treat ET but individuals are carefully selected as possible candidates for surgery and surgical intervention is usually reserved for patients with severe, disabling tremor.

Finally, lifestyle changes as well as physical and occupational therapy may help individuals better perform tasks that are affected by ET.

Medication-Induced Parkinsonism

Some common medications can cause Parkinson-like symptoms. Medications frequently associated with the development of Parkinsonism (the name given to a group of disorders with similar features including four primary symptoms: tremor, rigidity, slowness of movement and postural instability) include antipsychotics, metaclopramide, reserpine, tetrabenazine and some blood pressure medications such as cinnarizine and flunarizine. Fortunately, the symptoms usually abate within weeks to months after discontinuing the problem medication.

This is one reason why it is very important to inform the medical staff in a hospital or clinic that you have Parkinson's and what medications you are taking. A Medication Card, which may be obtained from Parkinson Society British Columbia, is a very useful tool for keeping track of your medications. The card contains a clear message regarding medications that must not be taken by a person with Parkinson's.

Vascular Parkinsonism

Multiple small strokes can cause Parkinson's-like symptoms. People with this disorder are more likely to have gait difficulty rather than tremors and are more likely to have symptoms that are worse in the lower limbs rather than the upper limbs. Some will also report the abrupt onset of symptoms or give a history of a step form of symptom development (symptoms get worse, then plateau for a period, then get worse again). Treatment is the same as for Parkinson's disease, but the results are often not as positive.

Parkinson's Plus Syndromes

Parkinson-plus syndromes are a group of neurological conditions that are similar to Parkinson's disease but have unique characteristics. These syndromes can be hard to diagnose because the symptoms mimic other conditions. Read more about these syndromes here.

 


Get Involved

 

Text to donate!

New this year, Parkinson Society British Columbia is implementing a text-to-donate campaign for Parkinson's Awareness Month! This April through June, we are including a special call-to-action in our awareness materials to make it easier for interested audiences to show their support for Parkinson Society British Columbia. All funds raised will support our life-changing programs and services, advocacy efforts, and research contributions!

 

Text EMPOWER to 20222 to donate $10 to Parkinson Society British Columbia!

 

How can I help promote Parkinson's awareness?

Whether you are a person with Parkinson's disease, carepartner, friend, or family member, we invite you tell your story, and help spread the word that Parkinson's is #MoreThanATremor! See below for information on how you can help make a difference this April.

Social Media

Social media is a powerful way to communicate. This year, we are encouraging you to share your Parkinson's disease (PD) story using the hashtag #MoreThanATremor on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

Sharable Images: Coming soon!

Facebook

Be sure to like Parkinson Society British Columbia's page on Facebook. Share your PD story on our wall or on your personal profile using the #MoreThanATremor hashtag. Select posts might be re-shared on the PSBC Facebook page*.  

Sample Facebook Posts:

  1. Approximately 13,000 British Columbians have been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease (PD). While most people have heard of PD, the breadth of symptoms experienced and the ripple effect the condition has on family, friends and the healthcare system is lesser known. This April, I am supporting the Parkinson's community in BC by participating in #MoreThanATremor.

  2. April is Parkinson's Awareness Month, and I'm taking part in the #MoreThanATremor campaign to help raise awareness about Parkinson's disease, the second most common neurodenerative disorder after Alzheimer's.

Twitter

Tweet your thoughts on PD or photos, and use the #MoreThanATremor hashtag. As long as your tweets are public, others will be able to find you via the hashtag and engage*. 

Find us on Twitter

Sample Tweets:

  1. While you might have heard of Parkinson's, did you know that symptoms vary significantly from person to person? #MoreThanATremor

  2. April is #ParkinsonsAwarenessMonth. Although Parkinson's is slightly more prevalent in men than women, it impacts people regardless of age and ethnicity. #MoreThanATremor

  3. Parkinsons disease impacts 13,000 British Columbians, as well as friends, family members, and the healthcare system. #MoreThanATremor

Instagram

Tell your #MoreThanATremor story visually on this photo based platform!*

Find us on Instagram. Sharable images coming soon!

*Parkinson Society British Columbia understands that everyone has a right to privacy on social media. Most social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, offer varying levels of privacy. Please don't feel pressure to change your settings - there are other ways to support this campaign! However, please be aware that hashtags can only be viewed by those who can see your accounts.  

Posters

This April, you can participate in Parkinson's Awareness Month by placing a poster in the window of your home. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we do not recommend you look to circulate the posters to businesses and community centres as we have in the past. 

You can download a poster from one of the links below.

Approach Your Local News Outlet

Since April is Parkinson's Awareness Month, news coverage about the disease and the people affected is considered topical. In the past, many people with Parkinson's have been successful in helping to earn media coverage in their communities. This year, PSBC invites you to approach your own local media! 

In past years, residents have also provided interviews, written letters to the editor or offered their own stories which have been shared with various types of media. Here are some examples:

 

Where will I see Parkinson's Awareness Month promoted?

Television

Global BC, Provincial 

  • 7 second ads (broadcast TV): April 1 - April 30, 54 ads total
  • Our BC Community Calendar (broadcast TV): April 3 - 9
  • BC1 Community Calendar (broadcast TV): April 3 - 9
  • Global BC's Featured Events page (web): April 1 - 30

Radio

Listen to these local radio stations to hear our public service announcements (PSAs) and Parkinson's Awareness Month segments throughout April!

Abbotsford:

  • 98.3 Star, 48x 30-second PSAs

Kamloops:

  • Radio NL, 30x 30-second PSAs

Kelowna:

  • 99.9 Sun FM, 42x 30-second PSAs; website promotion
  • 101.5 EZ Rock, 42x 30-second PSAs; website promotion
  • AM 1150, 42x 30-second PSAs; website promotion

Prince George:

  • 101.3 The River, to be decided
  • 99.3 The Drive, to be decided

Victoria:

  • 98.5 Ocean, 48x 30-second PSAs
  • 103.1 Jack, 48x 30-second PSAs

Whistler, Squamish, Pemberton & Sunshine Coast District:

  • Mountain FM, 48x 30-second PSAs

Public Transit

Lower Mainland

If you live in the Lower Mainland, you may see our ads on local transit promoting Parkinson's Awareness Month throughout April! These ads will be placed on the interior of Canada Line trains and buses, as well as at major SkyTrain and Canada Line stations in Vancouver.

  • 80 interior bus ads
  • 50 Canada Line interior ads
  • 2 SkyTrain station posters at Granville & Commercial-Broadway
  • 1 Canada Line station poster at Waterfront

Kelowna

  • 20 interior bus ads

Victoria

  • 50 interior bus ads

Proclamations

Proclamations are formal public statements issued by a governing body honouring or celebrating events, causes and individuals.

Every April, PSBC approaches the Province of British Columbia to officially recognize Parkinson's Awareness Month. Many communities across the province will also join to issue proclamations. To view the proclamations that have been issued for 2020, please visit the links below:

Other communities across BC have the capacity to issue proclamations. While the procedure to submit proclamation requests vary, many government bodies will accept a written request letter and proclamation sample. 

If you are interested in requesting a proclamation in your community, please contact Jovana Vranic, Marketing & Communications Senior Coordinator, at jvranic@parkinson.bc.ca.

Landmark Lighting

The following landmarks will help bring awareness and show their support on World Parkinson's Day, April 11, by lighting up their landmarks or facilities in teal and magenta.

Burnaby 

  • Grand Villa Casino

Coquitlam 

  • Hard Rock Casino

Dawson Creek 

  • Calvin Kruk Centre for the Arts

Fort St. John 

  • Centennial Park stage & lamp posts

Maple Ridge 

  • The ACT Arts Centre

New Westminster 

  • Anvil Centre

Oak Bay 

  • Municipal Hall

Port Moody 

  • Inlet Centre Fire Hall
  • Civic Centre, Brovold Room

Trail 

  • Victoria Street Bridge

Vancouver

  • BC Place Northern Lights
  • Canada Place Sails of Light
  • Leckie building (Gastown)
  • Bloedel Conservatory
  • Telus Science World

Surrey 

  • Civic Plaza

Victoria 

  • BC Parliament buildings 
  • Steamship Terminal building

Whistler 

  • Fitzsimmons Creek Bridge

If you see a landmark in your community light up on April 11, don't forget to take a photo and post it on social media with the hashtag #MoreThanATremor!

 

Community Partners

We invite local businesses and organizations to show their support for our campaign and lend their platform to become a community partner this April Awareness Month! Community partners will be recognized in our newsletters, on our website, and on social media. For more information on how your organization can get involved, read on below.

Landmark Lighting

In recognition of World Parkinson’s Day this April 11, Parkinson Society British Columbia is partnering with landmarks and facilities across the province to light up for Parkinson’s awareness. We invite all interested organizations and businesses to show their support for over 13,000 British Columbians living with Parkinson’s, and help spread the message that no one is alone in their journey with this disease.

Please consider lighting up your facility or landmark in teal and magenta this April 11 to signify the colours of our community as represented by Parkinson Society BC.

Sponsorship & Advertising

Give the gift of support by sponsoring or donating an advertising opportunity on World Parkinson's Day, April 11. Parkinson Society British Columbia relies on the generosity of our donors to fund our public awareness and advocacy efforts. By donating an advertising space, you can help us raise support and awareness for the Parkinson's community.

Social Media

Help us spread the word by sharing our posts on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. Throughout the month of April, we will be releasing stories, photos, and videos as part of our public awareness campaign. Show your support by using our hashtag, #MoreThanATremor! Stay tuned to see our posts.

 


2019 Coverage
  • Landmark lights for World Parkinson's Day
    Facebook post, April 11, 2019 [view photos]

  • Research status report on World Parkinson's Day
    Global BC News, April 11, 2019 [view video]

  • The Challenges of Living with Parkinson's with Peggy Mutch
    Global BC Morning News, April 11, 2019 [view video]

  • April is Parkinson's Awareness Month
    The Simi Sara Show, April 9, 2019 [listen]


Thank you to our Community Partners

Landmark Lighting

 

Bcp Pos Stk Blue Rgb Lg Bloedel Conservatory logo.jpg Canadaplace Pov Rgb Hrzntl

Gastown logo.jpgGlobal Relay logo.jpg

 

 Northern Lights Display, Vancouver

Bloedel Conservatory Dome, Vancouver  Sails of Light & Olympic Cauldron, Vancouver  Leckie Building, Vancouver
       
 Telus Science World logo.jpg Grand Villa Casino logo.jpg   Hard Rock Casino logo.jpg Kiwanis Performing Arts Centre logo.jpg 
Science World Dome, Vancouver 

Grand Villa Casino, Burnaby 

Hard Rock Casino, Coquitlam  Calvin Kruk Centre for the Arts, Dawson Creek 
       
 Fort St John logo.jpg ACT Arts Centre logo.jpg  Anvil Centre logo.jpg  Oak Bay logo.jpg 
Centennial Park Stage & Lamp Posts, Fort St. John The ACT Arts Centre, Maple Ridge  Anvil Centre, New Westminster Municipal Hall, Oak Bay 
       
 Port Moody logo.jpg Surrey logo.jpg   Trail logo.jpg BC Legislative Assembly logo.jpg 
 Inlet Centre Fire Hall & 
Civic Centre Brovold Room, Port Moody

 Civic Plaza, Surrey

Victoria Street Bridge, Trail 

 BC Parliament Buildings, Victoria
       
Greater Victoria Harbour Authority  Castlegar Logo   Whistler Logo  
Steamship Terminal Building, Victoria

Castlegar Bridge, Castlegar

 

Fitzsimmons Creek Bridge, Whistler

 
 

 

Radio Advertising

Victoria    
 Jack1031 Transparent 985Ocean Blue Logo No Background   
     
Abbotsford    
 983Star Logo Tm Rgb    
     
Kamloops    
Radio Nl Logo Cmyk Newc 2651 01 New Country Logo Final Logo Colour 1031 Uncoated K97 5 Red 2C Rgb
     
Squamish, Whistler, Pemberton, Sunshine Coast District   
Mountainfm Logo    

 


If you have questions or comments about #MoreThanATremor or any of PSBC's awareness activities, please contact:

Jovana Vranic
Marketing & Communications Senior Coordinator
jvranic@parkinson.bc.ca | 1-800-668-3330
Alicia Wrobel
Senior Manager, 
Resource Development & Communications
awrobel@parkinson.bc.ca | 1-800-668-3330