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General public lacks awareness of Parkinson’s

Most people in the UK have little understanding of the signs and symptoms associated with Parkinson’s, according to recent research.

The study, commissioned by Parkinson’s UK, reveals that 73 per cent of the British public would fail to recognise many of the tell-tale signs of the condition – such as freezing to the spot, or a fixed facial expression.

Almost one respondent in six (16 per cent) said they would feel ‘annoyed, embarrassed or uncomfortable’ if they encountered someone with a tremor – one of the more visible symptoms of Parkinson’s.

In an effort to increase public awareness, Parkinson’s UK has launched an advertising campaign across the country.

Posters will feature mixed-up ‘jigsaw’ images of six everyday tasks, such as making a cup of tea or switching on a light, that can pose problems for those affected by Parkinson’s.

Commenting on the new campaign, Gita Ramdharry, chair of the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists Interested in Neurology (ACPIN), said: ‘It’s important to acknowledge the importance of highlighting the experience of living with Parkinson’s.

‘However, it should also emphasise the importance of the role of physiotherapy, and other therapies, in helping people to manage the symptoms and how they impact people’s day to day lives.'

Dr Ramdharry added: ‘Physiotherapy and exercise interventions have been shown to give functional benefit to people living with Parkinson’s.'

Janet Thomas, chair of Chartered Physiotherapists Working with Older People (Agile), said: ‘This campaign is important, as raising public awareness of Parkinson’s is vital as is ensuring that the public is aware of the impact it can have on such everyday tasks. Ensuring this awareness helps lead to early intervention, including physiotherapy, is key.'

Sharon Greensill, chair of Chartered Physiotherapists in Mental Health Care, added that the experiences of people with a dual diagnosis of Parkinson’s and dementia should also be considered.

An updated version of a European guideline on physiotherapy in Parkinson’s disease is expected later this year. For more information visit the European Parkinson's Disease Association website.

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