Senior Thesis has officially started. For me, that means researching Parkinson's Disease, how it works, it's effects on the body and brain, it's progressional path, and what may be causing the disease. Out of everything possible, I chose this so that I can learn to understand it along with the millions of other people who have watched it take away the life of someone they love. Thesis will allow me to explore the disease, work with a professional and portray it through design.
To put it briefly for now, Parkinson's Disease is a movement disorder caused by the loss of Dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter in the brain that relays signals that controls balance, movement, and coordination. It can begin with a tremor in the hand, or arms, and legs when the body is at rest. The rate of progression varies per case, but over time, it effect's the person's movement ability. There isn't a cure for Parkinson's, but physical therapy, occupational therapy, and medication can help keep the disease in control.
Over the course of the next few weeks, I'll be looking more closely at the three following aspects of the disease to determine the executional part of my thesis project.
1. Closely study how the brain communicates with the body and how the lack of dopamine makes a person lose control over their movements. I would create an interactive environment for people to come into a space and be restricted on what they can do, and their abilities be beyond their control. This would create an empathetic experience using physical everyday objects and each persons body.
2. Research deeply into the causes of Parkinson's disease. They have not found one specific cause for Parkinson's but they have studied relationships between a persons past jobs, environment, and family history, as well as the relationship between the Gulf and Vietnam war. Scientists found that the chemical weapons used during the war may have triggered PD. More research could give me more of a theory to display through statistics and potentially some sort of experience or way to explain these chemicals and how it effected the brain. The problem with this is that the war isn't a conclusive cause, but this study opened a lot of doors to understanding those specific chemical effects.
3. My third idea is to tell a story. No progressional rate or persons experience with Parkinson's disease is the same, but cases can be studied to gain knowledge about the disease, and it's many aspects. Because this is such a big topic, I could narrow down to how I saw it happening to my grandpa, and scientifically show what really was happening. One way to help maintain mobility once you've been diagnosed is by using your hands, so things like folding paper, writing, sewing, and knitting can help keep the hands moving. I would visually represent the statistics and show the disease through small detailed charts and images made from cut paper, folding and sewing. This project idea would visually explain the disease to gain a better understanding.