TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Aug. 13, 2014) - On September 6th and 7th, more than 14,000 everyday heroes in 110 communities across the country will display their superpowers in the 24th annual Parkinson SuperWalk. Each year, the event raises awareness and money to support valuable education, resources and support services for people living with Parkinson's and their families, as well as research, such as the work of Dr. Ali Salahpour at the University of Toronto.
Dr. Salahpour is investigating how and why a protein called TAAR1 blocks dopamine action in the brain. When brain cells that normally produce dopamine die, the symptoms of Parkinson's appear. If he finds a drug that inhibits TAAR1, which is present in everyone, with or without Parkinson's, it could increase the effectiveness of the remaining dopamine in the brains of people with Parkinson's disease.
"Inhibiting TAAR1 may also enable people with Parkinson's to use less of their current medications, reducing complications and side effects and improving their quality of life," explains Dr. Salahpour.
While research can take years to eventually become a treatment, the benefits can be worth the wait and quite dramatic. Al Saulou was taking medication every four hours day and night. He was stooped; walked with a shuffle and needed help with everyday activities like dressing. Al's Parkinson's was also affecting his wife, Betty, who supported Al's intricate routine. Following deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgery, Al stands erect, walks normally and is much more independent. He now carries his own "controller," which enables him to adjust the stimulator implanted in his brain.
"DBS did not magically appear; it is the result of an enormous amount of research and collaboration by dedicated scientists," says Al, who turned to Parkinson Society to help him better understand this complex disease and manage daily living.
DBS is not a cure for Parkinson's; it reduces the symptoms of the disease and only about five per cent of people with Parkinson's are suitable candidates. Al knows he's one of the fortunate ones and is humbled by his success, while others continue to suffer.
This September, Al Saulou is taking his renewed strength and superpowers to his community in Alberta as one of thousands of everyday heroes across Canada who volunteer and participate in Parkinson SuperWalk. Together, they hope to raise $3 million. To register, donate, or find a walk, visit online at www.parkinsonsuperwalk.ca. Follow Parkinson SuperWalk on Facebook or on Twitter @SuperWalk. For more about Parkinson's disease and to find support in your community, visit www.parkinson.ca or call 1-800-565-3000.
About Parkinson SuperWalk
Since 1990, more than $27 million has been raised by Parkinson SuperWalk and invested in communities across Canada to provide evidence-based education resources, advocacy and support services. Parkinson SuperWalk proceeds also support Parkinson Society Canada's National Research Program. Since 1981, more than $21 million has been invested in over 425 projects to identify causes, improve treatments and to one day find a cure.
About Parkinson's disease
Parkinson's is a degenerative neurological disease for which there is no cure. More than 100,000 Canadians and over six million people worldwide have Parkinson's. Since 1965, Parkinson Society Canada, with regional partners and 240 chapters and support groups, has provided support, education, advocacy and funding for research.