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[back] Reaching out to Parkinson's patients ANTHONY THANASAYAN - 23 May 2013
Thursday May 23, 2013

Reaching out to Parkinson's patients


(Pics inserted by MPDA)

THE very mention of "Parkinson's disease" sends a shiver down one's spine. That's probably because there is no known cure for the disease. Parkinson's patients suffer stiffness in their muscles and trembling in their limbs.

Though the disease progresses over time, there is no reason for patients to give up, says the Malaysian Parkinson's Disease Association (MPDA).

MPDA, a non-profit society based in Kuala Lumpur, has been providing key support for People with Parkinson's (PwP), their caregivers and family members since its inception in 1994.

They have been organising a variety of activities and events to help PwP to stay on top of their condition.

Every Tuesday morning, there are sessions for PwP and their caregivers to give them a sense of control and accomplishment.

Their newest programme, street dancing, has drawn a lot of interest among the Parkinson's community. Last week, the street dancing session was held at the Parkinson's centre in Happy Garden, Old Klang Road, Kuala Lumpur.

Understandably, the activity is held indoors rather than in the streets. And the special movement exercises are improvised to accommodate to each PwP's personal abilities and limitations.

What is good is that everyone is encouraged to participate, whether they are in a wheelchair or use a walking aid. The dance focuses on the parts of their body which they can move to the pulsating beats.

It's a load of fun activities, and MPDA is grateful to volunteer Lim Wee Onn, 22, who comes in weekly as their instructor.

Apart from dancing, the centre also offers self-help classes to help PwP know more about their condition and stay healthy with medication and positive activities.

It is also a unique place for them to meet other PwP and caregivers to exchange notes on how they cope with their condition.

Caregivers of PwP are not left out, too. They get to attend special sessions on how to be more effective when helping their loved ones with Parkinson's.

Last week, they were taught the right techniques to help a wheelchair user to get in and out of bed more easily, and without causing injury to the helper.

These lessons were conducted by a local company as part of its corporate social responsibility programme.

From the gymnasium to the kitchen, every corner of the Parkinson's centre is used for all sorts of therapy. For those with or without any culinary skills, here was an opportunity to learn a new skill or just show off their talents in the kitchen.

MPDA's volunteers and office bearers joined PwP and their caregivers to come up with a mouth-watering home-cooked lunch for everyone after class.

The cooking sessions helped MPDA's kitchen crew to bond with the rest of the class. By the end of the day, no one really wanted to leave such a warm and friendly place.

Outreach programmes to reach out to more patients and their caregivers are held twice a week.

The MPDA also holds public forums and workshops across the country.

Last October, their public awareness forum in Ipoh drew a crowd of 400. It resulted in the setting up of an affiliate group of MPDA called the Perak Parkinson's Association. The association is headed by Samuel Ng, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's at 42.

MPDA is planning to hold similar workshops in Kuantan and Johor Baru in the near future.

MPDA is one of the organisation partners of the World Parkinson Congress (WPC) which will be hosting the 3rd WPC in Montreal, Canada, from Sept 29 - Oct 4 this year.

The WPC is expected to bring together a diverse group of people with Parkinson's and their caregivers, scientists, health professionals, policy-makers and NGOs, to discuss the latest scientific discoveries, medical practices and issues related to living with the disease.

Malaysia is lucky to be represented in this global collaboration through MPDA president Sara Lew who sits on the Government Relations Committee in the WPC.

The WPC is a triennial global congress and Malaysia has been shortlisted in its bid to host the 4th World Parkinson Congress.

For details, please visit the following site: worldpdcongress.org.

For more information, please visit MPDA at mpda.org.my or call 03-79806685 (Open Tues - Sat)/017-8871859.

Source: http://thestar.com.my/columnists/story.asp?col=wheelpower&file=%2F2013%2F5%2F23%2Fcolumnists%2Fwheelpower%2F13135943&sec=Wheel+Power