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Hundreds Strive For Cure of Parkinson's on Walkway

The illness causes tremors, muscle stiffness and a loss of control over movement and coordination.

Parkinson’s disease affects as many as a million people nationwide, according to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation. Each year in the United States, the foundation states that approximately 60,000 people are diagnosed.

Hundreds of people walked across the Walkway Over the Hudson in the second annual “Walk Over Water” awareness walk in hope of finding a cure Sunday.

“We should strive in everything we do to turn our hope for a cure into a promise for a cure,” said Nancy Redkey, leader of the Parkinson’s Disease Support Group of the Mid-Hudson Valley, speaking to a crowd of about 150 walkers in Poughkeepsie.

Named after English doctor James Parkinson, who conducted some of the earliest studies of the disease, the progressive nervous system disorder mostly affects people older than 50, causing symptoms such as loss of balance and memory, slurred speech, confusion, dementia and an inability to walk.

The disease is caused by the dying off of nerve cells, which contain the brain chemical dopamine. This chemical is responsible for sending messages to parts of the brain controlling body movement. Why the cells decay is not yet known, but cell damage increases over time, according to the foundation. There is no known cure.

A host of medications exist to manage the symptoms of Parkinson’s, one of the most effective being a combination of the drugs carbidopa and levodopa.

Steven Plotnick, 64, takes them on a regular basis to control his symptoms. The Rhinebeck resident walked gingerly across the Walkway on Sunday, showing few signs of the disease he has had for six years. “When the medication works, I walk like normal, but then it wears off,” he said. “I’ll be in a wheelchair in a few hours.” Plotnick said over the years he has been receiving increasing doses of medication. “Your body develops a tolerance to it,” he said.

The disease also affects loved ones.

Sandy Brocchetti, 72, pushed his wife, Ermellina, across the Walkway in a wheelchair Sunday. The Rhinebeck man explained that the disease had progressed to the point where she was having problems eating and going to the bathroom.

When asked why he had chosen to be his wife’s full-time caretaker for the seven years since her diagnosis, Sandy Brocchetti smiled.

“I love her,” he said, simply.

Note from PDF:

The Mid-Hudson Parkinson’s Disease Support Group, led by Nancy Redkey, mentioned in the news story above, is a member of the PDF Champions program. PDF Champions are some of the dedicated individuals who give their time and energy to raise awareness for Parkinson’s and funds for PDF in their local communities.
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Source Date: May 03 2012
Source Publication: Shantal Parris Riley | Poughkeepsie Journal
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