Few diseases can claim rank with Parkinson's Disease in duration, and in sheer ability to cripple.
It is one purpose of this article to reveal to people, for perhaps the first time, some of the more salient facts about this formidable and tragic affliction, in the hope that their dissemination will stimulate further therapeutic effort in behalf of its victims.
The sensitive reader may cringe before the facts of so clinical a study. But no battle can be waged effectively against an undefined opponent. Stripped of its traditional cloak of mystery, Parkinson's Disease immediately becomes less formidable.
Confronted with new prospects for successful treatment, its victims no longer need languish in their window seats and chimney-corners, helpless and without hope.
Perhaps the greatest single organizational endeavor thus far in behalf of the victims of Parkinson's Disease has been the chartering of an official group to achieve public and professional recognition for these victims the world over.
This organization, known as the Parkinson's Disease Foundation, has as its purposes the raising of funds for research, the establishment of more adequate treatment centers throughout the country, the treatment of indigent victims of the disease, and the correlation and dissemination of information concerning it to and from the research centers of the entire world.
Another important weapon which lately has been enlisted may appear to be more of an economic measure than a medical one, but in reality it is precisely the opposite.
This weapon is a unique organization called Lifelines, a name which symbolizes a helping hand, the sole purpose of which is to provide a livelihood for those afflicted with the disease.
Lifelines does not actually employ patients with Parkinson’s Disease; it acts rather as a sort of clearinghouse for information concerning employment possibilities. The basic plan of action is simple. Individuals interested in lending a helping hand to Parkinsonian patients notify the organization whenever an employment possibility presents itself in some business or industry. Suggestions and ideas for self-employment are also sent in by interested outsiders and like-
wise constitute a source of material for the economic rehabilitation of the Parkinsonian patient.
To be sure, Lifelines is still in its developmental stage, but a start has been made, and as time goes on one can hope that the ultimate objective of gainful employment by the majority of Parkinsonian patients will be realized.
In the meantime, it can be said that Lifelines is actively changing the status of the Parkinson's Disease patient from what literally has been a condition of suspended animation, to which he has been condemned for centuries, to a place in the community as a contributing member rather than an economic parasite. He is becoming a contributor because he is being taught that rehabilitation is not a myth and that earning a living can be accomplished despite his medical legacy of defeatism and despair.