This weekend marked the start of Parkinson’s Awareness Week. Here Storyhub reporter Cameron Mellor outlines his personal experience of the disease and looks at the latest research developments:

Everyone has memories that stay with them, whether it was the first time they drove a car, the first time they conquered a fear or the first time they lost a loved one.

“He has Parkinson’s,” my parents told me. “It’s what makes him have the shakes in his hands and effects his coordination.”

That memory of hearing of my Grandad’s condition will stay with me forever. I understood what they were telling me, I understood that it was a something that affects the brain, but I didn’t understand why.

Seeing him away from home, lay in a hospital bed was upsetting enough, but knowing that it isn’t something he could get better from was worse.

As I walked down the corridor back towards the car park, I realised that I’d lost my Grandad.

He was still here, but he would never be the same person who taught me how to play pool, who told me stories of his past and sang along to Daniel O’Donnell.

Parkinson’s can affect people in different ways (copyright free from Pexels)

Today marks the start of Parkinson’s Awareness Week, which runs from April 10th to 16th.

The event is run by charity Parkinson’s UK and is an opportunity to reach more people affected by the condition, raise funds for research into treatments, change public attitudes towards Parkinson’s and raise awareness of the services and support available to anyone affected by the condition.

Parkinson’s is very much like dementia, it is a brain disorder that leads to shaking, stiffness, and difficulty with walking, balance, and coordination.

Parkinson’s symptoms usually begin gradually and get worse over time. As the disease progresses, people may have difficulty walking and talking. It is brought on with age and caused by the loss of nerve cells in part of the brain called the substantia nigra.

This leads to a reduction in a chemical called dopamine in the brain which is a vital role in regulating movement in the body. It does not cause people to die, but the condition can place great strain on the body and can make people more vulnerable to life-threatening infections.

On Sunday, April 11th, the UK Parkinson’s community came together to connect and learn more. Dave Clark and Clare Addison spoke about important topics and the latest developments in Parkinson’s research. You can watch a video of what they said here:

If you’ve been affected by Parkinson’s either through family or friends and would like to help make a difference, then you can Donate here.