Show me the Evidence
Guest Editorial on the Power of Partnerships and Collaboration: Breakthroughs in Dementia and Parkinson's Disease
Joyce Gordon, President and CEO, Parkinson Society Canada
Most people associate Parkinson's disease with visible motor symptoms such as slowness of movement, rigidity, tremors and balance problems. But people living with Parkinson's often report that non-motor symptoms, including cognitive disorders and dementia, have a greater impact on their quality of life.
Up to 70% of people with Parkinson's will go on to develop cognitive impairment or dementia.1 These people may experience a myriad of issues that negatively affect everyday tasks including slowness of thinking, difficulty with planning activities, memory problems, trouble finding words and articulating thoughts ("tip of the tongue" phenomenon), visual misperceptions or illusions, and difficulty recognizing non-familiar faces and emotions.
Parkinson Society Canada believes that partnerships and collaborations are the best way to find underlying causes of cognitive impairment in Parkinson's that will enable scientists to develop better diagnostics and treatments, and ultimately find a cure.
We partner with researchers across Canada through our National Research Program. For example, the Parkinson Society Canada co-funded Dr. Oury Monchi and his postdoctoral student, Dr. Alexandru Hanganu, at the Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal, in the first longitudinal study on Parkinson's and dementia. Their findings demonstrate that it may be possible to identify individuals in the early stages of Parkinson's who will go on to develop dementia. Knowing now that people with Parkinson's are six times more likely to develop dementia than someone in the general public, this research opens up the possibility that early intervention (e.g. medication, cognitive training, and transcranial magnetic stimulation) may help to slow cognitive deterioration.2
We also collaborate with all levels of government. At the federal level, Parkinson Society Canada serves as an active member of the Cognitive Impairment in Aging Partnership, an initiative of the CIHR Institute of Aging. In addition, we are a founding member of Neurological Health Charities Canada, a national coalition of neurological charities, which has partnered with the Public Health Agency of Canada to publish the National Population Health Study of Neurological Conditions, the first study of its kind to examine the depth, breadth and cost of neurological conditions in Canada. The study is expected to be published in fall 2014.
Most importantly, Canadians must recognize that they too are vital partners in health research. Canadians can play an active role in many ways, including participating in clinical trials, learning more about Canadian research and raising awareness about the importance of health research across the country. We believe that by embracing opportunities to develop these kinds of partnerships and collaborations, there will be breakthroughs and innovations in research, supporting the health of all Canadians.
For more information, go to Parkinson Society Canada.
- Footnote 1
Postuma, R., et al. Physician guide: Non-motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease (Montreal: McGill University Health Centre, 2012)
- Footnote 2
Hanganu, A., et al. "Mild cognitive impairment is linked with faster rate of cortical thinning in patients with Parkinson's disease longitudinally," Brain 137, 4 (2014): 1120–1129. doi:10.1093/brain/awu036.
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