This week over 200 events have been organised across the UK as part of Parkinson's Awareness Week, the aim of which has been to help raise awareness of the urgent need to find a cure for Parkinson's.
Here in Gloucestershire a County Conference was organised by local representatives of Parkinson's UK, bringing together members and supporters of Parkinson's UK as well as health professionals and specialists in the field.
Owner of Home Instead covering Cheltenham and the Cotswolds, Amanda Hamer, was delighted to be able to show her support for Parkinson's UK and attend the event.
The main speaker of the day was Dr Paul Thomlinson, Clinical Research Fellow at Oxford University, who gave a fascinating insight into the 'Tracking Parkinson's' project which was launched nationally by Parkinson's UK on April 16th.
This will be the world's largest ever in-depth study of people with Parkinson's, involving thousands of people across the UK over a five-year period. As Dr Thomlinson explained, the aim of the study, which is funded by Parkinson's UK, is to speed up the search for a cure for Parkinson's by finding 'biomarkers'. These are samples of body tissue or body fluids which can potentially be used to mark the presence of disease. They can be used to diagnose a disease or monitor its progression.
At present there are no biomarkers for Parkinson's and this is a real barrier to developing new treatments for the condition. To achieve their ambitious aims for the project, UK researchers will study Parkinson's as it develops in greater detail than ever before.
In addition to the speakers, the conference also provided an opportunity to sample a range of practical workshops, from Tai Chi to drumming, and from singing to Conductive Education. All of these are considered to be beneficial to those with Parkinson's and the importance of exercise was a key message throughout the day.
The Parkinson's UK website at www.parkinsons.org.uk features lots of information for people with Parkinson's and their families, as well as more details about the 'Tracking Parkinson's' project (and taking part). The website also provides information about support available through Parkinson's UK across the South West and links to local branches in Cheltenham, Tewkesbury and Cirencester/Stroud.