Legendary rock and roll star Ozzy Osbourne has spoken frankly about living with Parkinson’s. The 73-year-old British rocker, who fronted heavy metal band Black Sabbath during the 1970s, has opened up after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2020. The main symptoms of Parkinson’s are the involuntary shaking of parts of the body, known as tremors; slow movement; and inflexible, stiff muscles. There is often a wide range of other physical and psychological symptoms including balance problems, a loss of sense of smell, insomnia and anxiety. Caused by a loss of nerve cells in the brain, leading to a reduction in the chemical, dopamine, which plays a crucial role in regulating the body’s movements; the loss of dopamine is responsible for most of the symptoms of Parkinson’s. Although it is unclear what causes Parkinson’s, research has suggested it’s a combination of genetic and environmental factors. It affects one in 500 people, the majority of whom start to develop symptoms when they are aged over 50. One in 20 people notice the first symptoms when they are under 40. There is currently no cure for Parkinson’s disease, although treatments can help reduce the main symptoms to maintain the person’s quality of life. These include physiotherapy and occupational therapy, medication and brain surgery in some cases. In the early stages of Parkinson’s, treatment may not be necessary, as the symptoms are mild. When was Ozzy Osbourne first diagnosed? Osbourne was first diagnosed with Parkinson’s two years ago. He stunned fans by revealing his diagnosis on TV, on the Good Morning America show, in January 2020. He said he found out about having the condition after suffering a fall. He needed surgery on his neck as a result of the fall and said afterwards, one arm started feeling numb and his legs kept going cold. He sought medical advice, initially thinking the symptoms were due to the fall. However, Parkinson’s was diagnosed, and in Osbourne’s case, it was genetic. His wife, Sharon, when being interviewed on Good Morning Britain, explained it was down to a gene he was born with. She explained that it was a rare condition, so its path wasn’t exactly like “normal” Parkinson’s that everyone recognised. The Parkinson’s Foundation states genetics are probably responsible for between 10% and 15% of all Parkinson’s cases. Even if a person has a gene mutation like Osbourne’s that is associated with Parkinson’s, the likelihood of developing the disease is still low. Sharon told Good Morning Britain her husband had found out about his gene in 2003 but had not shown any signs of developing the disease. Osbourne’s doctors believe the shock to his body caused by the fall and operation started off the Parkin 2 gene. After the fall and surgery, he was officially diagnosed with Parkinson’s. How are the Osbournes coping with Parkinson’s? In August, it was reported that the Osbournes were planning to move back to the UK from the United States, where they have lived for 25 years. In an interview, Ozzy said the mass shootings in the States had made him want to come home, rather than the Parkinson’s diagnosis. He said he had Sharon to thank for helping him get through the hard times after his condition was confirmed. The Birmingham-born star said he simply felt it was “time to go home”. He delighted fans with a surprise appearance at the closing ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in early August. Sharon has echoed her husband’s words that their decision to return to the UK has nothing to do with his Parkinson’s diagnosis. They are to return to their Grade II listed mansion in Buckinghamshire in February next year. In preparation, they have built a swimming pool and a recording studio and installed air-conditioning in the 120-year-old building. How has Parkinson’s affected Ozzy? Ozzy said the disease had taken its toll on his mental and physical health. He said he felt like he was lifting his feet, but they wouldn’t move, describing it as being like “walking around in lead boots”. He also said the disease had left him feeling depressed, describing it as “reaching a plateau” lower than he wanted it to be, until “nothing felt great”. He was prescribed antidepressants and they had helped. He said he didn’t think too much about the future, as he didn’t know where it would end. Although he’s mobile at the moment, he fears he may reach a stage where he can’t get out of bed. He praised Sharon for helping him to live his best life, despite his health problems. She says she won’t let Ozzy be defined by his condition. Following his performance at the Commonwealth Games, Ozzy (who was nicknamed the “Prince of Darkness” during his years with Black Sabbath) said he was going to give it his best shot to go on another tour. He said, “You haven’t seen the end of Ozzy Osbourne, I promise you.”
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