What Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Parkinson’s diagnosis means
Last Friday, politician and civil rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson announced he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Rev. Jackson is a two-time presidential candidate known for participating in civil rights movements with Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
In a released statement, Jackson wrote:
“My family and I began to notice changes about three years ago. For a while, I resisted interrupting my work to visit a doctor. But as my daily physical struggles intensified, I could no longer ignore the symptoms, so I acquiesced. After a battery of tests, my physicians identified the issue as Parkinson’s disease, a disease that bested my father.”
“Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that causes body movements to slow down over time,” says Dr. Sachin Kapur, a movement disorder specialist with Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill. “The nerve cells that are affected are the ones that produce dopamine, which is what helps us to control our movements.”
Typical early symptoms include:
- Trouble moving or walking
- Rigid muscles
- Speech changes
- Trouble sleeping
- Loss of smell
- Writing changes
- Loss of balance
- Impaired posture
- Dizziness or fainting
“While there’s no cure for Parkinson’s, medicine and physical therapy can help to reduce symptoms,” says Dr. Kapur. “It’s important to see a physician if you think you may have Parkinson’s so you can start treating the disease as soon as possible.”
In his statement, Rev. Jackson seemed to understand that while the disease is incurable, there’s still no reason to give up hope. He wrote, “For me, a Parkinson’s diagnosis is not a stop sign, but rather a signal that I must make lifestyle changes and dedicate myself to physical therapy in hopes of slowing the disease’s progression.”
According to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease each year, and over ten million people worldwide are living with the disease.
Click here to find out more about Parkinson’s disease.
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About the Author
Jamie Bonnema, health enews contributor, is a specialist of public affairs and marketing at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn. She earned her BA in communications from DePaul University in Chicago. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, going to concerts, and cheering on the Chicago Cubs.