By Valerie Gibson
Too many African Americans with Parkinson’s disease experience invisibility when it comes to their medical care.& In fact, no one in the Parkinson’s healthcare community even has an estimate as to the number of Blacks in this country living with the disease.& As a Black neurological physical therapist who has treated Parkinson’s patients for over 40 years, I am painfully aware of the pervasive racial disparities in healthcare that deprive Black Parkinson’s patients of the care they need and deserve.& &
Parkinson’s is a disorder of the central nervous system that affects movement and coordination.& Caused by nerve cell damage in the brain, it is a chronic, progressive disease in which motor symptoms continue to worsen and become more debilitating.& Typically, Black patients with Parkinson’s are first seen at later stages of their disease than White patients.& &
Much of this disparity is attributable to an inequitable healthcare system.& While there is no known cure for Parkinson’s, physical, occupational and speech therapy, combined with certain medications, are critical to effective treatment.& A recent study commissioned by the Michael J. Fox Foundation found that profound disparities exist in Black Parkinson’s patients’ access to care, treatment, and rehabilitation. (Racial...