The number of people suffering from Parkinson’s disease is expected to double by the middle of the century, right across the globe, experts have warned.
It is one of the world’s fastest growing neurological disorders, and while the number of cases has doubled in the last 25 years – it’s expected to do the same again by 2050, or even earlier. In fact, according to HelloCare, while globally there were around 6.9million cases of Parkinson’s in November last year, that number could increase to 14.2 million by 2040.
According to Parkinson’s Australia, one in every 340 Australians are living with Parkinson’s, with an average of 32 new cases diagnosed every day. The site adds: “People living with Parkinson’s are more than five times more likely to be in residential aged care facilities than the general population.”
Meanwhile, The Times reports the number of people with the disease in the UK will rise by a fifth in the next seven years – and could double by 2050.
Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects neurons in a specific area of the brain called substantia nigra, with symptoms differing between sufferers. They can experience anything from balance problems to slower muscle movements, tremors and limb rigidity. There is no cure for the disease, but it can be treated with medications and surgery to help sufferers.
Professor Ray Dorsey, of the University of Rochester, previously told HelloCare that “pandemics are usually equated with infectious diseases like Zika, influenza and HIV.” He added: “But neurological disorders are now the leading cause of disability in the world, and the fastest growing is Parkinson’s disease”.
Meanwhile Radboud University Medical Center’s Dr Bastiaan Bloem insisted more protests and action towards Parkinson’s research are essential. Boxing legend Muhammad Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson’s syndrome aged 42 in 1984, while Michael J. Fox and Billy Connolly have openly battled it too. Connolly was knighted by the Duke of Cambridge at Buckingham Palace last November, and couldn’t resist joking about the disease, that he revealed in 2013 he had developed.
During the ceremony, knighthood recipients have to kneel in order to receive the honour. “I sighed with relief when I saw the stool had a handle,” Connolly told The Sun, intimating that getting down and back up again may’ve been tricky for him. “It wouldn’t have crossed my mind before.”
That said, he added that he didn’t let Parkinson’s affect him more than absolutely necessary. “What I do is ignore it completely and get on with my life,” Connolly said, saying he wasn’t entirely comfortable with being a poster boy for the condition.