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World Parkinson’s Day marks the birthday of Dr. J Parkinson in April of each year. On this day there are efforts made to increase the public awareness of this terrible disease, as well as all the good works put forth by the world’s organizations that are dedicated to preventing and finding a cure for this debilitating disease.

History of World Parkinson’s Day

Dr. James Parkinson, an English doctor and scientist, first described the disease in “An Essay on the Shaking Palsy”, which was published in 1817. He described a pattern of lessened muscular power, involuntary tremulous motion, even if these are supported. He also wrote of the fact that there is a tendency for people with this disease to bend the body forward and to involuntarily switch from a walking to a running pace, while the sense and intellect deteriorate.

It wasn’t until several decades later, in the 1870s, that the ailment was given the name Parkinson’s Disease (sometimes called PD). When French Neurologist Jean Martin Charcot picked up and continued the work started by Dr. Parkinson, Charcot then named the disease in honor of him.

The first World Parkinson’s Day took place in 1997. It was started by a collaboration between the World Health Organization and the European Parkinson’s Disease Association (EPDA), with the two groups having a focus on raising awareness and support for research and information surrounding prevention of and a cure for this medical condition. It is now an official WHO holiday supported by the United Nations.

One of the prominent symbols of Parkinson’s disease is the red tulip, and this was established at the 9th World Parkinson’s disease Day at the Luxembourg Conference.

The story of the Red Tulip can be tied back to J.W.S. Van der Wereld, a Dutch horticulturist who was suffering from Parkinson’s disease. He had successfully generated a Red and White Tulip and named it in honor of the man who named his medical condition. On the tail of this, the Tulip received the Award of Merit, granted by the Royal Horticultural Society in London, and then was granted the Royal General Bulb Growers Trial Garden Award.

There’s no doubt that World Parkinson’s Day is an important cause to get behind, and this is the perfect day to do it. So now it’s time to get started and observe this day!

World Parkinson’s Day Timeline


“Rest Tremor” is described 

Sylvius de la Boë is a Dutch physician and scientist who makes note of the “rest tremor” that will eventually be a critical sign of this disease.[1]


Parkinson’s Disease is first described 

Originally called a “shaking palsy” by English medical doctor James Parkinson, after whom this neurological syndrome is named.[2]


Jean-Martin Charcot refines earlier descriptions 

Dr. Charot is particularly influential in clarifying and expanding information while disseminating it internationally. He also separates PD from other disorders.[3]


Pre-dopamine treatments are used

After findings the year before that show low dopamine levels in PD patients, André Barbeau first notes the benefits of using oral levo-dopa, a direct precursor to dopamine.[4]


First World Parkinson’s Day is celebrated 

Choosing April 11 as a nod to Dr. Parkinson, this inaugural day is established by the World Health Organization.[5]

How to Celebrate World Parkinson’s Day

World Parkinson’s Day offers a whole host of ways people can get involved in observing and raising awareness for the day. Try out some of these ideas or come up with some of your own:

Join a World Parkinson’s Day Activity

Activities are put on all over the world to promote this important cause and the opportunity to participate is open to any and all who want to help in this effort. So get online and check out what’s happening in your local area. From lectures and educational events to fund-raisers, there’s bound to be something where support can be shown!

Raise Awareness with a Marathon Run

One of the popular ways of supporting the awareness of this disease is participating in marathons in cities throughout the world. The number of countries that are participating in this expand every year, including Uruguay, Mexico, Bolivia, Fulvio Captinio, the USA, and an increasing number with every passing year.

Learn More and Share About Parkinson’s Disease

Many people do not understand what Parkinson’s is, or are unaware of how to identify it. In the interest of promoting awareness of this disease, a simplified description follows:

Parkinson’s disease is a disorder that results in the degeneration of the central nervous system, and directly impacts those nerves that handle motor functions for the body as a whole. As the disease advances in a person with PD, it becomes apparent from the slowness of the body and the increasing stiffness of the limbs that there is a developing problem. The limbs will begin to shake uncontrollably as it gets further on and eventually an entire scope of additional symptoms will develop as more and more motor functions are impacted. Sufferers are often tired, and memory problems become more apparent as time goes on.

Hold a Fundraiser for World Parkinson’s Day

What can you do to help out on this important day? As mentioned above there are numerous marathons and walk-a-thons that take place in various cities to help generate donations to support the ongoing research into this condition. This would be a great time to work together with various friends, family or coworkers to help organize refreshment stands or bake sales to produce more funds that can be donated to Parkinson’s Disease research groups.

It also might be a great idea to organize larger events at some local parks, or even with some local schools since getting children involved and aware is a great idea! This would be an ideal opportunity to work together with teachers and schools to create a day where there are educational courses about the disease, and musical performances to generate money for donations.

Make a Donation to a Parkinson’s Disease Cause

Those who might not have the time to organize a full event can still give a donation through a number of different viable organizations that promote the cause to fight against Parkinson’s Disease. Check out the information and opportunities for some of these organizations:

No matter what activities are chosen, remember that this day is dedicated to an open awareness of this disease as well as making an effort to help support those groups and organizations that are intent on eradicating or controlling this illness. So on World Parkinson’s Day, make sure to talk about it to those people in life, and encourage them to join in on the fight!

World Parkinson’s Day FAQs

What is World Parkinson’s Day?

World Parkinson’s Day exists to raise awareness about the PD, including its symptoms, risk factors and hope for a cure.[1]

Who started World Parkinson’s Day?

This day was established in partnership between the World Health Organization and the European Parkinson’s Disease Association.[2]

When is World Parkinson’s Day?

World Parkinson’s Day is celebrated on April 11. It is observed on this day because it correlates with the birthdate of the person who discovered the disease, Dr. James Parkinson.[3]

What are the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s Disease has four main symptoms: resting tremor, stiffness, slow movement, and impaired coordination or balance.[4]

How to prevent Parkinson’s Disease?

Though not entirely preventable, some healthy habits may reduce the risk, including avoiding toxins, avoiding head trauma, getting regular exercise and eating fresh, raw, organic vegetables.[5]

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