Mike Tindall opens up about how his dad has 'deteriorated' during 'nightmare' Parkinson’s battle

Danielle Fowler
Freelance Writer

To mark World Parkinson’s Day, Mike Tindall has opened up about his father’s 16-year battle with the disease in a bid to raise awareness of the condition.

The former rugby player, who shares two daughters with the Queen‘s granddaughter Zara Tindall, appeared on ‘Good Morning Britain’ to talk about his dad Philip’s battle with the disease.

Revealing how his father is doing, he said: “Yeah, it’s deteriorated. He had a really bad year last year.”

“My dad was probably sitting at 12 stone and over six months he got Ulcerative Colitis and there is some link with the gut… he went down to 8 stone 1,” he continued. “It’s huge. Suddenly all that strength is taken out of him which makes those symptoms even worse.”

Tindall went on to admit that it was difficult to come to terms with his father’s condition in the early stages of diagnosis, as he didn’t understand that Philip was showing signs of the disease 18 months before the family sought medical help.

Mike Tindall photographed alongside his father [Photo: Good Morning Britain]

“I was probably very blasé at the start when he got diagnosed in 2003. He didn’t really show signs, it was just a small tremor in one of his arms,” the 40-year-old said.

“He has this tremor for maybe a couple of years, eighteen months before that, but being a typical bloke he probably didn’t address the issue early enough because the sooner you get on the drugs, the slower the progression is going to be.”

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Tindall then went on to explain that his father’s condition has deteriorated further over the past decade – especially in the last year.

Mike Tindall hopes to raise awareness of the condition [Photo: Good Morning Britain]

“I remember my dad taught me to play rugby,” he reflected. “He is still that guy that wants to play with [his grandkids] Mia and Lena but you can sort of see that he has to question how far he can go with it because he is not in the same physical shape that he used to be.”

Tindall, who supports The Cure Parkinson’s Trust, then went on to discuss how difficult it can be to diagnose the condition.

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“It’s a nightmare disease,” he said. “There are over 40 different symptoms of what Parkinson’s can look like, the research that has come out [says] how many people feel that they are drunk, people can suddenly freeze in the middle of the street and you might upset somebody walking behind you…”

“They just don’t get it,” Tindall continued. “They don’t understand that that could be part of it so that’s the difficult part of it.”

Mike Tindall photographed alongside his wife Zara Tindall [Photo: Getty]

As a public figure, the father-of-two is determined to spread the word about the disease in order to help others in a similar situation.

“I think you have to share experiences. With the state of mental health and how prominent that is, I think that is the only way you can do it,” he said.

What are the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease?

According to Parkinson’s UK, two people are diagnosed with Parkinson’s every hour in the UK with approximately 145,000 living with the disease in 2018.

The NHS states that the three main symptoms of the disease include tremors (which usually begin in the hand or arm), slowness of movement (also known as bradykinesia) and muscle stiffness – which can result in the difficulty to make facial expressions.

The condition is common among those over 50 but despite widespread belief, can also affect young people.

How is Parkinson’s disease treated?

There is currently no cure for Parkinson’s but a range of treatments are used to help control the symptoms and maintain quality of life.

The disease can affect a person’s speech and may lead to difficulties in swallowing (dysphagia)  therefore a speech and language therapist can prove helpful.

Occupational therapy and physiotherapy are also common methods of treatment.

For further information, please visit the Parkinson’s UK website.