Parkinson’s Life highlights: our favourite stories of 2015
Author: Parkinson's Life editorsPublished: 24 December 2015
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The end of the year is a great opportunity to reflect and look back on highlights from the last 12 months. That said, Parkinson’s Life is still less than one year old, but despite its age we’ve covered an amazing mix of inspiring stories such as the astronaut with Parkinson’s who flew into space, the ukulele-maker in a race against Parkinson’s, and the incredible scientific feat of deep brain stimulation live on the TV for the first time…
As well as providing top tips on wellbeing, the latest research news, essential tools, and international coverage of campaigns from around the world.
So to make sure you, our readers, haven’t missed out on anything, we’ve created a selection of un-missable stories since we launched at the beginning of May. Click the images to read the full stories.
These photos could change the way the world sees Parkinson’s forever
Let’s start with our most read story. Norwegian photographer Anders Leines has certainly gone some way to fulfilling his mission of giving Parkinson’s a “total makeover”. In this interview and gallery, he talks about his exhibition that aims to capture younger, ‘early-onset’ Parkinson’s patients in a series of portraits that are at once poignant and celebratory.
Parkinson’s Cafés: your regular dose of coffee and companionship
Parkinson’s Cafés are buzzing and it’s not just the caffeine. This Dutch initiative is making a real difference to the lives of people with Parkinson’s, by building a network of friendly, supportive communities across the Netherlands
Let’s talk about sex (and Parkinson’s)
Sexuality and intimacy are still seen as taboo, and they are especially huge challenges that people with Parkinson’s and their partners have to face. But as specialists Gila Bronner and Orna Moore explain, open channels of communication are essential for a decent quality of life.
One giant leap for people with Parkinson’s
This is the incredible story of how one NASA astronaut didn’t let Parkinson’s stop him from entering space once again.
Save the last dance for Google Glass
Virtual dance classes from the comfort of your living room? Check! How innovative new software developed by Dance for PD is helping patients dance off symptoms.
24 powerful Parkinson’s stories in free e-book
This collection of 24 inspiring, real-life stories of people living with Parkinson’s is downloadable as a free digital e-book, available in English, Italian, German and French. Great for our international audience.
MUSIC VIDEO: Mitch Faile, the next Parkinson’s popstar?
This was the anthem the Parkinson’s community was waiting for. Mitch, you’re a star! Just blame it on the Parkinson’s…
Raise your glass to ‘Parkies’ – the new beer that’s raising funds for nurses
Ex-Pink Floyd tour manager with Parkinson’s, Alan Comer, concocted a special brew to help raise money and awareness for Parkinson’s nurses. Can there be a funner way of raising £1,376?
Another mountain to climb: campaigners set for Etna expedition
“The mountain is more than physical – it’s a metaphor for reaching goals in health, personal achievement, research, and finding cures,” said Enzo Simone, leader of a group of fearless campaigners who climbed the epic Mount Etna, Europe’s highest volcano.
Frozen faces: 15 icy images that show what it’s like to lose control of your expressions
What if you suddenly couldn’t smile? Or frown? Photographer Chris Crossley captures facial ‘masking’ in this stunning set of ‘Concrete’ images.
The 8th Parkinson’s ‘Olympics’ targets key exercise habits
In August the Parkinsoniada sports games took place in Czech Republic and saw hundreds of people with Parkinson’s pick up the baton and get exercising. Read this report of the special sporting event by Leszek Dobrowolski, president of Warsaw Regional Association of People with Parkinson’s Disease.
The dopamine effect? Why people with Parkinson’s are more creative
Have you ever felt more creative after taking medication? Well, there may now be a scientific explanation for it…
Parkinson’s ‘bootcamp’ puts patients through their paces
A summer ‘bootcamp’ in Portugal put a squad of people with Parkinson’s through their paces – and the results were stunning, says course organiser Josefa Domingos.
Uke-maker vows to finish 1,000 ukuleles in race against Parkinson’s
Having been recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s and turning down treatment in the US, luthier Pete Howlett focused all attention on his quest to reach his life target of completing 1,000 instruments – what he considers a “lifetime’s work” – and he’s adamant the disease won’t stop him.
Parkinson’s cookbook receives royal reception in Belgium
The Parki’s Kookatelier – a cooking guide that provides specialised recipes to help patients overcome chewing and swallowing problems, as well as odour and taste loss – received the royal blessing from the King and Queen of Belgium at its launch in September.
Moving to the beat: can techno help Parkinson’s patients walk better?
Calling all electronic music lovers! There may now be a good excuse for blasting out your favourite high-tempo dance track. State-of-the-art movement tracking technology is being used to show that music with a strong and steady beat – such as house or techno – could help Parkinson’s patients walk in time.
Paws for Parkinson’s: the perks and the quirks of service dogs
Service dogs are often associated with blind people, but furry four-legged creatures are also the way forward and upward for people living with Parkinson’s, writes Renee Le Verrier.
‘Back To The Future’ sneakers to raise millions for Parkinson’s research
As part of the Back To The Future Day 2015 celebrations, Nike pledged to donate all money raised from sales of new limited edition sneakers – as worn by character Marty McFly in ‘Back To The Future Part II’ – to Parkinson’s research. Fittingly, Michael J Fox was the first to try them on. Check out that futuristic self-lacing system, Doc!
GB athlete with Parkinson’s going for gold at Duathlon World Champs
“As a PT4 paratriathlete it’s an honour to represent GB in the able-bodied World Championships,” Ruth Wilson told us in October before she competed in the Duathlon World Championships in Adelaide, Australia. Ruth represented Great Britain against able-bodied athletes, despite being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease six years ago.
How the world reacted to the first US live Parkinson’s brain surgery
Clocking up 2.5 million hits, TV programme ‘Brain Surgery Live’ sparked many talking points causing people around the world to take to social media to voice their opinions. We provided a round-up of highlights from social media as the action unfolded in real time.
“Brain Surgery Live is a modern medical miracle the public deserved to see”
Live DBS surgery was always going to be controversial – but it’s crucial in educating patients and inspiring the next generation of Parkinson’s disease researchers, argues medical student Justin Rossi.
“Nobody ever thought I had Parkinson’s disease – I was just 10 years old”
On National Day of Parkinson’s in Italy we heard one Italian girl’s extraordinary story of how she’s coped with Parkinson’s from the tender age of 10 (Italian translation included).
Salmon: the brain’s natural boost against Parkinson’s
Fish has often been classified as ‘brain food’ and here Anne Mikkelsen, author of ‘Take Charge of Parkinson’s Disease’, explains why.
Lewy body dementia: “The worst of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s together”
Amid revelations that Robin Williams also suffered from Lewy body dementia, as well as Parkinson’s disease, before his death last year, we shed light on the little-known dementia, often misdiagnosed as Parkinson’s and described by experts as “the most common disease you have never heard of”.
Meet the ultra-athlete who clocked up 14,000 miles and $2m for Parkinson’s
In this exclusive interview, ultra-athlete Sam Fox recalls his gruelling 14,000-mile odyssey across the US (which has raised more than US$2 million for Parkinson’s research), reminisces about his new favourite states in the US, and reveals why Tour de Fox isn’t over just yet.
John McEnroe: “I know we’ll reach a future without Parkinson’s”
The tennis legend John McEnroe was one of the many celebs to pledge their support for the Michael J Fox Foundation’s ‘unselfie’ campaign on social media.
VIDEO: 5 exercises to improve Parkinson’s symptoms
Strength and conditioning specialist Patrick LoSasso leads you through 5 exercises that could improve your Parkinson’s disease symptoms in this step-by-step video.
8 more Parkinson’s apps you need to try
Our last round-up of top apps for the Parkinson’s community proved to be such a hit that we went and found some more and compiled a new list of free or low-cost digital resources for people living with Parkinson’s, which includes apps for monitoring, treating and streamlining care.
So that’s our 2015 in a nutshell! All that’s left to say is Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Enjoyed reading Parkinson’s Life this year? What was your favourite story? What would you like to see more of? Where can we make improvements? We’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback by emailing: email@example.com
Podcast: What’s it like parenting with Parkinson’s?
Campaigners Larry Gifford and Allison Toepperwein share their experience
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Sir Billy Connolly: Parkinson’s disease is “like a strange animal”
Scottish comedian, actor and musician Sir Billy Connolly has recently discussed his experience of Parkinson’s disease while promoting his new autobiography, ‘Windswept & Interesting’. In an appearance on UK talk show, ‘The Graham Norton Show’, the comedian explained that he had lost the ability to write. He said: “It breaks my heart as I used to love writing letters to people.” Speaking to UK newspaper The Guardian, Connolly added that he thinks the condition is “like a strange animal. One that sits beside you and says, ‘How will you get on without this?’ – before it takes away something else.” Despite these adjustments, Connolly told Norton he has “good days and bad days” with the condition. “It’s creeping up on me and it never lets go,” he said. “I walk like a drunk man and have to have help. So, life is different, but it is good.” Lead image credit:…
New insights on immune cell process and Parkinson’s disease
Insoluble clumps of the protein alpha-synuclein, which can cause damage to brain cells, have been previously linked to Parkinson’s. Now, scientists in Germany, France and the US have uncovered new details on how brain cells respond to these clusters. The researchers discovered that the brain’s immune cells may be able to join together to break down the protein clumps. According to a press release, this was previously unknown. They also found that these neighbouring cells share mitochondria – structures that generate energy for chemical reactions – to help one another. In certain mutations associated with Parkinson’s, this process may be impaired. The researchers hope this insight could inform the development of new therapies. “We have opened the door to a field that will certainly engage researchers for many years to come,” said Professor Dr Michael Heneka, director of the Department of Neurodegenerative Diseases and Geriatric Psychiatry at the University Hospital…
Could analysing skin oil help diagnose Parkinson’s disease?
Parkinson’s disease patients tend to have high levels of oil, known as sebum, on their skin’s surface. Now, a study has suggested that analysing this substance may help when diagnosing the condition. The study revealed that sebum contains significant amounts of genetic material, specifically the molecule ribonucleic acid (RNA). Analysis of RNA contained in sebum – that is, skin surface lipids RNA, or SSL-RNA – could offer insights into a person’s health. Researchers in Japan examined SSL-RNA in men and women with and without Parkinson’s. The results suggested that the SSL-RNA profiles of those with Parkinson’s had “different characteristics” than those without. The researchers then tested whether examining these profiles with machine learning could reveal those who had Parkinson’s – and who didn’t. The team’s algorithm indicated a “relatively robust discriminatory ability,” supporting the further use of SSL-RNA as part of a future “non-invasive” method for diagnosis.