When Life Gives You Parkinson’s podcast: Ending Parkinson’s

On this episode of When Life Gives You Parkinson’s, I talk with professor of neurology Ray Dorsey from the University of Rochester and Todd Sherer, the CEO of the Michael J. Fox Foundation. These are two of the four authors behind a new book called Ending Parkinson’s Disease: A prescription for action.

Dorsey, Sherer and co-authors Michael S. Okun, MD at the University of Florida, and Bastiaan Bloem, MD and PhD from the Netherlands, each approach Parkinson’s disease from a specific point of view.

Dorsey is a telehealth and home health-care advocate who has been using technology to see patients remotely for more than a decade. He directs the Center for Health and Technology, which offers free care to anyone in New York who has Parkinson’s disease. His mission is to offer his services to anyone, anywhere.

Sherer is a neuroscientist who was part of a team that found the link between pesticides and Parkinson’s. Okun is a pioneer of surgical treatments for Parkinson’s. Bloem is the co-creator of ParkinsonNet, the world’s largest integrated care program for Parkinson’s disease. It provides customized and individualized networked treatment, which can include nutritional advice, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, exercise, clever IT, community and hope.

Their book clearly portrays Parkinson’s disease as a formidable antagonist. They describe Parkinson’s as a “man-made pandemic” that thrives today, with a diagnosis rate that doubles every 25 years, with no known cure and not enough urgency to slow the spread.

The authors point to research that suggests Parkinson’s disease was fuelled initially by the industrial revolution and continues to be diagnosed at a rate greater than the rates of aging or population growth due to pesticides that attack the nervous systems of bugs (and people), solvents, contaminated well water and head trauma.

The authors conclude Parkinson’s disease may be man-made. However, just as humans contributed to the rise of Parkinson’s in the 19th and 20th centuries, we can now work together to eradicate the disease. Readers are called to action by focusing on prevention, advocacy, care and treatment.

The book concludes with a list of 25 concrete steps we can and should take to reduce the worldwide toll of this disease. The list includes banning specific pesticides and solvents, and cleaning up contaminated sites, which will all take vigorous lobbying of the governments of many countries.

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