The award-winning actor Alan Alda has shared his diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease during an interview on the CBS This Morning show. The source video of the interview can be found here on CBS’s Twitter account, or here on CBS’s website.
About Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological condition linked to a low level of the chemical dopamine. According to Parkinson’s UK, an estimated one in 350 people in the UK are affected by the condition.
The NHS says that Parkinson’s is caused by damage and loss of nerve cells in certain areas of the brain, which leads to reduced levels of dopamine. The condition is typically associated with three main symptoms, which are tremors, stiff, inflexible muscles, and slow movement. However, people can experience a range of other symptoms, including depression, anxiety, problems with balance, sleeping issues, memory issues, and others. The majority of people with symptoms first develop symptoms when they are over the age of 50, but according to the NHS, approximately one person in twenty with the condition develop symptoms when they are forty or younger.
Alan Alda is an actor, director, and author known for his roles that include the TV series M*A*S*H (in which he played Hawkeye Pierce), and The West Wing (appearing as Senator Arnold Vinick). He has won six Golden Globes, five Primetime Emmy Awards, and has been Oscar-nominated for his work.
Mr Alda was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease three and a half years ago, but has only recently decided to speak out about it, saying that he saw his thumb twitch during a recent interview in which he was promoting his podcast series, and decided to speak about it publically “before somebody does a story about this from a sad point of view”, saying, “that’s not where I am.” He says that his life has been full since his diagnosis, including acting, giving talks, and being involved in the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University.
However, according to this BBC article, Mr Alda went on to say that he doesn’t want his comments on the condition to “short-change people who are suffering with really severe symptoms.”
Steve Ford, the CEO of Parkinson’s UK, has said that Alda’s decision to share his diagnosis will help to “shine a light” on the condition. Mr Ford says, “The more Parkinson’s is discussed the more understanding there will be, along with the vital need to drive forward research.”