“We Need To Do More”: Parkinson’s Awareness Month - 96five Family Radio

“We Need To Do More”: Parkinson’s Awareness Month

Parkinson’s Australia has unveiled a report that sheds new light on the disease, as an Australian sporting legend reveals his struggle.

By 96five NetworkWednesday 17 Apr 2024Health and WellbeingReading Time: 4 minutes

Every 27 minutes an Australian is diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

That alarming statistic is part of a new report released by Parkinson’s Australia (PA) for Parkinson’s Awareness Month in April.

The three-part report, titled The Ecosystem of Parkinson’s in Australia, delves into the effects and ramifications of a neurological disorder that inflicts over 150,000 Australians.

Parkinson’s disease affects the nervous system and the parts of the body that are controlled by the nerves. According to PA, the four key symptoms are shaking, muscle rigidity, bradykinesia (slowness of movement) and balance issues and falls.

“Our research underscores the urgent need for increased awareness, support and research into Parkinson’s,” PA CEO Olivia Nassaris said on Thursday, World Parkinson’s Day.

“With incidence and prevalence rates set to skyrocket in the coming years, it’s imperative we take proactive steps to address the challenges faced by individuals living with Parkinson’s and their families.”

“It doesn’t discriminate”

With the release of the report, former Australian test cricket captain Allan Border has joined forces with PA to help raise awareness of the disease and share his own battle.

The cricketing legend, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2017, appears in a video with Ms Nassaris to appeal to the Prime Minister and the Health Minister to support Parkinson’s Australia’s cause.

“It’s a disease that affects a lot of Australians and getting worse, and we need to do something a little bit more about it,” said Mr Border.

As a former athlete who lives a healthy lifestyle, Mr Border is living proof the disease can strike anybody.

“It’s a disease that affects a lot of Australians and getting worse, and we need to do something a little bit more about it,” said Mr Border.

“It doesn’t discriminate,” the father of four said. “I consider myself pretty fit, healthy.”

The 68 year old, who has commentated for Fox Sports, is now unable to work.

“If I wanted to keep working in the area that I was in, which was TV, I can’t because it’s quite obvious I’ll get nervous and that some of the symptoms come through,” he said.

In fact, thousands of Australians contract Parkinson’s each year while still employed.

“There’s over 13,000 people that have developed Parkinson’s that are of working age,” he said.

Support needed

Mr Border has teamed up with PA to shine a light on a disease that needs more governmental support to raise awareness and conduct research.

“Our research underscores the urgent need for increased awareness, support and research into Parkinson’s,” said Ms Nassaris, who cared for her late grandmother, a Parkinson’s sufferer.

According to the report, Parkinson’s cases in Australia are expected to triple by 2050, despite the cost already around $10 billion per year.

“With incidence and prevalence rates set to skyrocket in the coming years, it’s imperative we take proactive steps to address the challenges faced by individuals living with Parkinson’s and their families.”

Indeed, according to the report, Parkinson’s cases in Australia are expected to triple by 2050.

And at present, Parkinson’s cost to the health system is $10 billion per year.

“The cost to the economy is really quite astounding,” she said.

Family history of the disease and “exposure to toxins” are factors that are known to increase the risk.

Crunching the numbers

PA’s report, which was released on World Parkinson’s Day, also revealed:

  • There are up 19,500 new cases of Parkinson’s each year.
  • More than 1 million Australians (family, friends, colleagues) are impacted by the disease.
  • Of those who have Parkinson’s, 52 percent are male; 48 per cent are female.
  • Parkinson’s cases in Australia are expected to triple by 2050.

A call for research

While there is no known cause of Parkinson’s, a family history of the disease and “exposure to toxins” are factors that are known to increase the risk.

But Mr Border and Ms Nassaris say that with more support and research, more could be learned about the disease that affects so many Australians.

“We’ve go to do something about it,” Mr Border said. “We really do.”

For the full three-part report, visit Parkinson’s Australia.

To watch Allan Border talk with Ms Nassaris, visit here.


Feature image: Photo by CanvaPro