|[back] Staying on top - A glimpse of the battle that Parkinson's patients face Anthony Thanasayan (Wheelpower) - 15 April 2010|
Staying on top - A glimpse of the battle that Parkinson's patients face
PEOPLE with Parkinson's disease all over the world observed World Parkinson's Day (WPD) last Sunday.
Although PD is prevalent among the older age group, it can affect anybody. Though there is no known cure, the disease is treatable.
Recently I spoke to PD expert Dr Norlinah Mohamed Ibrahim, and asked her how the disease affects sufferers.
Dr Norlinah is Associate Professor and Head of the Neurology Unit at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Medical Centre in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur.
She is also a consultant neurologist who specialises in PD and movement disorders, and is one of several medical advisers to the Malaysian Parkinson's Disease Association.
Dr Norlinah shared stories of patients who came to her for help:
MK was diagnosed with PD when she was 60. She had no idea that there was something wrong until her friends and her husband noticed that her right arm stopped swinging when she walked. She also experienced fatigue. However, MK dismissed it as part of the aging process.
Then things worsened. When MK's slowness became more exaggerated and her hands started shaking uncontrollably every time she was excited or anxious, she went to see Dr Norlinah.
"She displayed all the typical features of PD," said Dr Norlinah, who started her on treatment at once. "Today MK is able to perform her daily chores."
SY, who works with the police force, is another example. Before his diagnosis, he experienced severe leg cramps in the early morning that disturbed his sleep.
The GP failed to detect PD, and prescribed vitamins for SY's cramps.
His cramps got worse and depression set in. SY was unable to perform his duties. After SY was correctly diagnosed with PD by a specialist and treated for his depression, things started to look up. SY was shocked to discover that he had PD at the young age of 40.
Today with support from his family, SY is doing all he can to stay on top of the disease.
TP was 55 when told that she had PD. Only the left side of her body was affected then. Today, both sides of her body have become stiff and she experiences frequent tremors.
TP has to take medication up to four times a day. If she misses a dose, the symptoms recur.
TP also suffered from uncontrollable "twisting movements" of muscles in the neck and trunk. She discovered that she had developed a condition called dyskinesia, one of the complications of long-term treatment with a PD drug called levodopa.
Because of the embarrassment caused by the uncontrollable movements, TP isolated herself at home.
"It was only after TP was treated that she started to develop a more positive attitude and became more cheerful," shared Dr Norlinah.
KA was 25 when he was diagnosed with a rare genetic form of PD. His treatment began soon after diagnosis.
Today, at 40, KA experiences hallucinations, some of which are quite frightening to him. He sees "people" in his house. Sometimes "they" would come to him and disturb him, especially at night. Once, he thought "they" were trying to harm him and he stood at the gate of his house and yelled for help.
"Hallucinations are common in the advanced stages of PD," said Dr Norlinah. However, with proper medication, the nightmares are becoming a thing of the past.
The Malaysian Parkinson's Disease Association can be contacted at 35, Jalan Nyaman 10, Happy Garden, 58200 Kuala Lumpur (Tel: 03-7980 6685 / fax: 03-7982 6685 / e-mail: email@example.com)