Parkinson’s Awareness Month – April
As one of the most common neurodegenerative conditions in the world, there is a lot of information available on the internet about Parkinson’s. Yet, when it comes to understanding the disease, caring for a loved one who has Parkinson’s, or even taking the time out to spread awareness about it, we come across as less-informed.
So, let’s correct that right away.
Starting with –
It’s Parkinson’s Awareness Month!
In this article, we’ll take you through the nuances of Parkinson’s, the history of April as Parkinson’s Awareness Month, the different ways you can show your support, and the best treatment for Parkinson’s in India.
What is Parkinson’s?
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive, chronic, and degenerative brain disorder that impairs muscle control, balance, and movement. It results in the deterioration of the cells in substantia nigra (in the basal ganglia). It inhibits the brain’s ability to produce dopamine, the happy hormone. As the disease progresses, the neurons in the brain completely deteriorate. This leads to severe motor impairment, tremor, stiffness, slowed or delayed movement, dysphagia, sleep issues, fatigue, difficulty in speech, etc.
Understanding Parkinson’s symptoms
Parkinson’s patients may experience any or a combination of the below symptoms:
- Slurred speech
- Poor coordination and balance
- Shaky fingers, hands, or lips
- Numbness or weakness in the limbs
- Spastic limb movements
- Difficulty in standing up after sitting for a long duration and vice versa
- Loss of muscle control in first one side of the body and then the other
- Loss of control over movements like blinking or smiling
- Loss of bladder and bowel control
- Depression and anxiety
- Hypomimia or masked face
- Micrographia or small handwriting
- Dizzy spells
- Stooped posture
- Dragging of feet
- Slowing of movement (bradykinesia)
- Hypophonia or unusually soft voice
- Dyskinesia or involuntary movement such as jerks, twitches, and twisting movements that are uncontrollable
Causes of Parkinson’s
Although not conclusive, new research indicates Parkinson’s may be caused by genetic predisposition or exposure to certain toxic chemicals.
It can be a result of faulty genes in the extended family. New studies suggest that adults as young as 20 years diagnosed with Parkinson’s may very likely have a sibling with the same condition.
Environmental factors have still not been conclusively determined as the causes of Parkinson’s. The impact of herbicides and pesticides in agriculture, air pollution and other contaminants on the risk of Parkinson’s is still debatable.
In short, there is no exact cause of Parkinson’s.
History of Parkinson’s Awareness Month
April is the birth month of Dr James Parkinson, the English physician who first described Parkinson’s disease. In 1817, Dr Parkinson published ‘An Essay on the Shaking Palsy.’ In this essay, Dr Parkinson first described the condition as paralysis agitans, later renamed Parkinson’s Disease by French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot.
We honor the work of Dr James Parkinson by celebrating his birth month as Parkinson’s Awareness Month.
The first World Parkinson’s Day was held on April 11, 1997. It commemorates the birthdate of Dr Parkinson.
The importance of Parkinson’s Awareness Month
Spreading awareness about Parkinson’s can bring the scientific community closer to finding a cure for this neurodegenerative and debilitating condition. It is an opportunity to learn more about the condition, its symptoms, as well as how we can support a loved one with Parkinson’s.
The red tulip
In 1980, Dutch horticulturist, J. W. S. Van der Wereld developed a red and white variant of the tulip flower. Van der Wereld was a Parkinson’s patient himself, and he named his newly cultivated flower the Dr James Parkinson Tulip.
In 2005, the red tulip was formally adopted as the official symbol of Parkinson’s at the 9th World Parkinson’s Disease Day Conference in Luxembourg.
Wearing the red tulip/ribbon on World Parkinson’s Day shows your support for people living with Parkinson’s, their families, and caregivers.
‘How can I contribute to Parkinson’s Awareness Month?’
Parkinson’s is a life-altering disease. In spite of the wealth of information available about the disease, there are still so many around us who remain ignorant and unaware. So, here’s how you can make a difference this Parkinson’s Awareness Month –
- Spread awareness about the disease by sharing links to medical papers, webinars, and even Plexus’ Parkinson’s rehabilitation program with your friends and family
- If you know someone who is experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above and has not visited the neurologist yet, encourage them to go. Perhaps, you can accompany them for support and strength
- Check in on loved ones who have Parkinson’s
- Check in on caregivers
- Donate (no amount is small) to Parkinson’s fundraisers and research programs
- If you have Parkinson’s, shift your perspective; life is still beautiful and worth living, make the most of it
- If you’re a neurologist, remember compassion is your biggest ally
Plexus Rehabilitation for Parkinson’s
Founded by Dr. Na’eem Sadiq, India’s no. 1 Parkinson’s specialist, Plexus is India’s first ISO-Certified stem cell research center. Our Parkinson’s rehabilitation program comprises –
- Stem cell therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Physical therapy
- Speech and language therapy
- Cognitive rehabilitation therapy
- Bradykinesia management
- Rigidity management
- Agility training
- Functional training
- Hand function training and more
Book an appointment with Dr Na’eem Sadiq today.
Call +91 89048 42087 | 080-2546 0886
080-2547 0886 | 080-2549 0886
Can Parkinson’s be prevented?
Parkinson’s cannot be prevented, but its rate of progression can definitely be slower. Regular exercise will stimulate the release of dopamine, the neurotransmitter. This in turn can counter the effect PD has on the secretion of dopamine. It can help patients manage their PD symptoms and improve the quality of their life.
How long do Parkinson’s patients live?
Parkinson’s doesn’t affect longevity of life as much as it does the quality. Many patients have gone on to live four decades (and longer) after a Parkinson’s diagnosis.
What is the final stage of Parkinson’s?
Complete motor impairment along with severe respiratory issues and dysphagia mark the final stage of Parkinson’s.
What is the cause of death for Parkinson’s patients?
Two of the biggest causes of death in Parkinson’s are falls and pneumonia.
What foods should Parkinson’s patients avoid?
Processed foods, sugar, large amounts of protein, alcohol, foods high in saturated fats, and iron-rich foods are some that should be avoided by Parkinson’s patients as much as possible.
What is the best treatment for Parkinson’s disease?
Plexus’ Parkinson’s rehabilitation program is the best treatment for the disease in India.
Is Parkinson’s disease painful?
Pain in the lower back and the back of the neck are the most common types of pains experienced in Parkinson’s. The disease is not painful, however it can cause some level of discomfort as it advances.
How do neurologists treat Parkinson’s?
Based on the patient’s medical history and the stage of the disease, neurologists may prescribe medication like levodopa that can stimulate the secretion of dopamine, along with other medications. Additionally, they may also recommend a combination of occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech and language therapy to manage symptoms.
What confirms Parkinson’s?
Depending on the symptoms experienced by the patient, doctors may suggest a specific single-photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT) scan. This is also known as the DAT (dopamine transporter) scan. The primary diagnosis is done based on the patient’s symptoms and neurological scan. The SPECT or DAT can only confirm the diagnosis.