The Rev. Jesse Jackson, an icon of the civil rights movement for nearly six decades, has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, he announced Friday.
In an issued statement, Jackson, 76, said he noticed about three years ago that his mobility was decreasing and that he was having trouble going about his daily routine.
He was ultimately diagnosed with Parkinson’s, a neurological disease that he said contributed to his father’s death.
“Recognition of the effects of this disease on me has been painful, and I have been slow to grasp the gravity of it,” he said. “For me, a Parkinson’s diagnosis is not a stop sign but rather a signal that I must make lifestyle changes and dedicate myself to physical therapy in hopes of slowing the disease’s progression.”
Parkinson’s is an incurable disease that affects the nerve cells in the brain. Symptoms include muscle rigidity, tremors and changes in speech and gait, according to WebMd.
Treatments can help somewhat manage the symptoms, but the disease progressively worsens over time, and motor skills can almost completely disappear in its end stage. Though Parkinson’s itself isn’t fatal, complications from the disease can be.
“This diagnosis is personal but it is more than that,” Jackson said. “It is an opportunity for me to use my voice to help in finding a cure for a disease that afflicts 7 to 10 million worldwide.”