*Guest Blog* From Palsy to Parkinson’s: the Personalised Approach

200 years after James Parkinson’s famous essay, ‘An Essay on the Shaking Palsy,’ (which first established Parkinson’s as a recognised medical condition), scientists, Parkinson’s sufferers and those interested in the field, came together at King’s College London to discuss the new developments in Parkinson’s.

On the panel of esteemed experts was jazz musician, Barbara; made an expert only by the harsh reality that she has been living with Parkinson’s for almost 20 years. She talked candidly about her initial struggle with trying to keep off any drugs (it’s advised that Parkinson’s patients should stay off medication for as long as possible) whilst still trying to perform each night on stage. She spoke about how, with the help of Professor Ray Chaudhuri, she was able to control her Parkinson’s using a “personalised medicine” approach. He argued that if every Parkinson’s patient is different, why should we treat them as if they are all the same?

One of the key topics of discussion, which was also brought up at the Q&A session, was the effect your lifestyle and health (notably your gut health) can have on controlling or preventing Parkinson’s. This comes after new research showed that Parkinson’s might actually start in the gut. It could also explain some of the strange coincidences seen in the disease, such as why most Parkinson’s patients complain of constipation. Keeping this in mind, (and after speaking with Professor Chaudhuri See video here!, some ways in which Parkinson’s sufferers – or those worried about Parkinson’s through genetics or otherwise – could help themselves were discussed. Improving your gut flora through the consumption of red vegetables and introducing probiotics was shown (in some cases) to help with Parkinson’s patients tremor. Equally exercise, in any form, to ensure a healthy lifestyle was strongly advised.

After discussing the developments within the disease and ways to aid sufferers, a conclusion was drawn on the future of Parkinson’s. The experts spoke about their goals for researching Parkinson’s, which included improved diagnosis and management, plus raised awareness, as well as researching new drugs that could help with memory loss in Parkinson’s sufferers. Whilst there is still a long way to go in the development of Parkinson’s research, the future does look somewhat brighter and it’s encouraging to see so many people who are passionate about the issues surrounding Parkinson’s disease.

Fiona Patterson

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