Episode 146: Parkinson’s Disease in the Black Community

An early Parkinson’s diagnosis is the first step to getting Parkinson’s disease (PD) symptoms under control and living well with Parkinson’s. Getting a PD diagnosis is also one of the first obstacles many people in the Black PD community experience.

Research has shown racial disparities in the diagnosis and treatment of Parkinson’s – finding that Black people with PD are diagnosed at a later disease stage than white people and are less likely to be diagnosed compared to other racial and ethnic groups. These differences may be due to Black patients being historically excluded from research and to a range of health disparities, which cause them to systemically experience decreased access to resources and care due to social, economic and environmental disadvantages. 

Working with specialists who understand and treat Parkinson’s can help you better manage your symptoms and reduce complications. Since people in the Black community are often less likely to see a PD specialist, awareness of PD in Black communities is essential.

In this episode for Black History Month, we speak with a woman who has been very involved in raising awareness of PD among the Black community. Since her diagnosis, Denise Coley has become engaged in PD organizations. She served on the Parkinson’s Foundation’s People with Parkinson’s Advisory Council, and she is currently the Chair of the Mission and Outreach Committee of the California Parkinson’s Foundation Advisory Council.

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