Emmerdale actor Chris Chittell, who portrays Eric Pollard on the popular soap, has revealed that he has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. The heartbreaking storyline unfolded in a recent episode where Eric tearfully confided in Mandy Dingle, played by Lisa Riley, about his diagnosis. The character has chosen to keep his battle with Parkinson's to himself, reflecting the real-life experiences of many people living with the condition.
Parkinson's disease is a progressive neurological condition that occurs when brain cells that produce dopamine begin to die. It is the fastest growing neurological condition globally and currently has no cure. The realistic depiction of Eric's journey aims to raise awareness about the impact of Parkinson's and how it affects individuals, their loved ones, and the community.
Chris Chittell, the longest-serving cast member of Emmerdale, expressed his privilege in portraying this storyline and his desire to do justice to those who courageously face Parkinson's. Emmerdale's producer Laura Shaw emphasized the unique position of the show to authentically portray Eric's journey over an extended period, shedding light on what a Parkinson's diagnosis really means. Parkinson's UK has been collaborating closely with the show to ensure accuracy and provide support.
Parkinson's UK, a charity dedicated to supporting those affected by the condition, highlighted the importance of increasing awareness and understanding about Parkinson's. The organization aims to encourage discussions about the impact of the disease on individuals and their loved ones. They also shared their support for Emmerdale's portrayal of Eric's journey and emphasized their commitment to assisting anyone affected by Parkinson's through their helpline, local groups, and website.
Parkinson's disease manifests through symptoms such as tremors, slowness of movement, and muscle stiffness. Other signs include balance problems, loss of smell, nerve pain, excessive sweating, and dizziness. Parkinson's can also lead to sleeping difficulties, excessive saliva production, and difficulties swallowing, resulting in malnutrition and dehydration.
While there is no definitive test to diagnose Parkinson's, specialists can assess symptoms, medical history, and conduct physical examinations to make a diagnosis. Although there is no cure, treatments such as medication, exercise, therapy, and surgery can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life.
Emmerdale's portrayal of Eric's diagnosis aims to shed light on the day-to-day reality of living with Parkinson's while raising awareness about the condition. By featuring the journey of a beloved character, the show hopes to spark conversations, increase understanding, and provide support to those affected by Parkinson's disease.