Term of Award

Fall 2006

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Education Administration (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Department

Department of Leadership, Technology, and Human Development

Committee Chair

Meta Harris

Committee Member 1

Linda Arthur

Committee Member 2

Danette Wood

Abstract

One person in every thousand develops Parkinson's Disease. There is no known cause, no known cure and no existing definitive test for Parkinson's Disease. Qualified neurologists and movement disorders specialists make a diagnosis on the basis of their knowledgeable observations. If a cause is found, a cure will follow. The Savannah Parkinson Support Group has existed for fifteen years. It has a membership of 250 people with Parkinson's Disease, their relatives and caregivers. The North Dakota Parkinson Support Group has a smaller population but there are many commonalities between the two groups. This descriptive study attempts to discover the commonalities of the people within each group as well as the commonalities between the two groups. Two control groups, one in Savannah and one in North Dakota, consisting of males and females of similar ages without Parkinsons Disease were also recruited for this study. Current literature and studies find as potential causes of Parkinson's Disease: genetic factors and gene mutations, aging, trauma, viruses, environmental toxins, agricultural pesticides and herbicides, exposure to home pesticides and industrial chemicals and oxidative stress that contributes to nerve cell death. Ninety-seven people replied to the developed questionnaire that compared age, medical history, past and present demographics, occupations, traumatic events, environmental toxin exposure, medical history, family history and hereditary factors . Statistics showed several environmentally significant variables among the participants. These were family water supply, years living in a rural area, being born on a farm and exposure to chemicals. The use of crop and lawn pesticides was statistically insignificant. Occupational variables found to be statistically significant included the occupational history of the participants and the occupational history of their parents. In both of the Parkinson's Disease groups the unusual numbers were the amount of parents and grandparents who were farmers. Almost twice as many as all other occupations. In the control groups there were only a few parents who were farmers. Medical variables that were found to be significant included a history of head trauma and a history of having the flu shortly prior to symptom manifestation development. No statistical significance was found to exist between participants with Parkinson's Disease and family history of Parkinson's Disease.

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