How does Parkinson's affect you?
To find out what somebody affected by the disorder actually thinks of Martin’s research on turning skin cells to brain cells and investigating Parkinson’s Disease, and to discover how Parkinson's affects their life, I took to the phone…
Alan - My name is Alan Cameron and I was diagnosed with Parkinson's in late 2004, so I've been living with the condition for around 8 years now. The kind of thing you’ve describe sounds extremely useful – because it sounds like something that’s practical, it is within reach that is perhaps heading towards a cure or meaningful protective effects to slow down the underlying progress of the condition.
Hannah - I also wanted to know more about the symptoms of the disorder and how it’s affected Allan so far.
Alan - Parkinson's is first and foremost known as a movement disorder and the symptoms that I've experienced are primarily a problem with dexterity which has been an issue for my job because I spend a lot of time typing.
As well as a movement disorder, it commonly brings depression, and I've experienced that also. In many ways, it has been a bigger parts of the impact to my work than the movement disorder itself and it’s well-known, but it’s currently incurable, and it’s a progressive condition. With medication, we can address some of the symptoms but we don’t address the underlying progress of the condition. I'm lucky in that – for me, the progression has been quite slow. Parkinson's is known as kind of a "designer disease". It affects different people very differently.
Drugs are available which are very effective addressing the symptoms. So what you will tend to find is you'll respond to the drugs slowly over time, but you do slowly, day by day, start to notice that different things become more difficult. So my dexterity is primarily fixed on the left side, so changing gear or getting my arm into a sleeve is sometimes difficult, and I've tended to like shirts with cufflinks because they can become just a little bit too much fun...