Canadian study of neurological conditions provides new vital information on the impact of Parkinson’s disease

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TORONTO, ON, September 11, 2014 – Parkinson Society Canada is excited to share today’s release of the report on The National Population Health Study of Neurological Conditions by the Public Health Agency of Canada in partnership with Neurological Health Charities Canada. The four-year, $15 million study investigated the scope of 14 neurological conditions, including Parkinson’s disease, and how they affect Canadians, as well as related risk factors, economic costs and the use of health services.

The study involved 130 researchers and clinicians from 30 institutions across Canada, as well as 177,000 Canadians affected by neurological conditions who offered their insights and personal experiences. “We are incredibly proud of the contributions made by Canadians living with Parkinson’s disease and the role Parkinson Society Canada played in this outstanding achievement,” says Joyce Gordon, President & CEO of Parkinson Society Canada and Chair, Neurological Health Charities Canada (NHCC), the partner in the study.

“This study gives us our first, evidence-based, overview of Parkinson’s disease and its impacts, for Canada, as well as clear indications of the gaps in care, data and research. We need to address these gaps in order to improve the quality of life for people living with Parkinson’s,” says Gordon.

Key findings of the study regarding Parkinson’s disease (PD) include the following:

  • The number of Canadians over 40, living with Parkinson’s disease, will increase by 65 per cent, from 99,000 in 2016 to 163,700 by 2031.
  • The number of Canadians over 65, living with Parkinson’s disease, will more than double to 148,800 by 2031.
  • Parkinson’s has the third highest level of direct health care costs, after Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias and Epilepsy.
  • People living with Parkinson’s disease have the highest use of prescription medication.
  • Annual, out-of-pocket expenses for each person with Parkinson’s is $1,100 on average.
  • The level of stress doubles when caring for an individual living with neurological conditions and is greater if the neurological condition is accompanied by cognitive impairment or behavioural issues, which affects many people with Parkinson’s.
  • Forty per cent of respondents with Parkinson’s disease experience thinking and problem-solving limitations; and 50 per cent experience memory limitations.
  • More than half of those who reported having Parkinson’s disease have fair or poor general health.
  • The number of days in residential care is highest for those with Huntington’s, Alzheimer’s and other dementia, cerebral palsy and Parkinson’s disease.

One of the critical outcomes of the study and its collaborative process, is a commitment from the Public Health Agency of Canada to continue to monitor and measure the prevalence and impacts of neurological conditions in Canada, including those of Parkinson’s disease.

“In addition to providing current health data specific to Canada, this study points out the gaps in information, research and health care on Parkinson’s disease as well as other neurological conditions,” says Gordon, “and we must address them immediately, if we are to improve the lives of people who live with Parkinson’s now, as well as the dramatic increase in the numbers of people with the disease who will need our assistance in the very near future.”

The report points out the lack of information on the risk factors or causes of most neurological conditions, including Parkinson’s. Reliable data collection and ongoing research are the best ways to address such gaps.

“For people living with Parkinson’s, one of the biggest concerns is the need to arrange and coordinate medical visits and to repeatedly tell their medical story to a series of health care providers,” says Gordon. “One of the best ways to ease the burden of care for patients, their families and health care providers is greater coordinated, interdisciplinary care. Streamlined health care for people with Parkinson’s would be more efficient and more effective; reducing costs and improving lives.”

Parkinson Society Canada is pleased to share the full report: Mapping Connections: An Understanding of Neurological Conditions in Canada.

About Parkinson Society Canada:

Parkinson Society Canada is the national voice of Canadians living with Parkinson’s, a neurodegenerative disease. Through regional partners and 240 chapters and support groups, it provides education, support, and advocacy on behalf of over 100,000 Canadians living with Parkinson’s every day and the health professionals that serve them. Funding innovative research helps expand knowledge on prevention, diagnosis and treatment of Parkinson’s and will ultimately lead to a cure.


Marina Joseph
Director, Communication and Brand
Parkinson Canada
1-800-565-3000 ext. 3399