Written by Samantha Lade, DonateToday
Published: Wednesday, 11th April 2018

Almost 8 in 10 people 'massively underestimate' the complexity of Parkinson's, discovers new research

Almost 8 in 10 people 'massively underestimate' the complexity of Parkinson's, discovers new research

New research by a leading charity has revealed a staggering lack of awareness of how complex Parkinson's is, with roughly 78% of the public 'massively underestimating' how many symptoms of the disease there are.

The survey also discovered that more than one third of the public thought that there were fewer than ten symptoms of Parkinson's.

But although most people are aware of visible symptoms like tremor, Parkinson's can also come with more than 40 less well-known symptoms, such as sleep issues, anxiety and hallucinations.

The research, carried out by leading charity Parkinson's UK, was released today, Wednesday 11th April, to mark World Parkinson's Day.

The charity is now warning that this lack of awareness is having a 'devastating impact' on people with the condition, who often feel they need to hide their symptoms in public to avoid being judged or mocked.

Previous findings from Parkinson's UK discovered that 25% of those with the condition have had their symptoms mistaken for drunkenness, and that 11% have been laughed at.

Whilst physical symptoms can also include freezing – a terrifying symptom that can cause, without warning, a person to lose the ability to move, sometimes mid-step – it is the often-hidden symptoms that people with Parkinson’s say are the most easily misunderstood, and can lead to stigma and isolation.

Many individuals lose their senses of smell and taste, some experience severe swallowing difficulties, and others experience depression and anxiety.

Heidi Reynolds (pictured above), 41, from Cornwall, was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2014. 

She said: 'I am frequently told that I don't look like I have Parkinson's because people don't realise how many symptoms people with Parkinson's have that aren't as visible. My brain has stopped sending signals to my body that I'm hungry or thirsty, or that I need the toilet. 

'One of the hardest things I'm dealing with at the moment is cognitive issues. I have a daily sheet of tasks and signs around the house to keep me focused.

"Every hour, two people in the UK are told they have Parkinson's."

- Parkinson's UK

'It's important to speak out about hidden symptoms, so the public can be more understanding.'

Steve Ford, Chief Executive at Parkinson's UK, said: 'Parkinson's is an unlucky dip with such a broad range of symptoms that impact on every area of a person's daily life.

'The lack of understanding of the range of symptoms can make simply stepping out of the door feel terrifying for people with Parkinson’s.'

To help combat this lack of awareness, the #UniteForParkinsons campaign is giving a voice and platform to the Parkinson's community by featuring their experiences in a world-wide campaign video.

The charity has also launched a petition calling for businesses to #UniteForParkinsons by signing up to workplace training.

To find out more information, or to watch and share the campaign video, please click here. To sign the petition to make businesses Parkinson's friendly, please click here.