Tue | May 28, 2024

Letter of the Day | Promote Parkinson’s awareness

Published:Tuesday | April 16, 2024 | 12:06 AM

THE EDITOR, Madam:

World Parkinson Day was observed on April 11 under the theme ‘Living Well with Parkinson’s’. The day is designated to raise awareness and advance research towards better therapies and a cure for Parkinson’s disease (PD).

The Mayo Clinic states that Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder that affects the nervous system and the parts of the body controlled by the nerves. The symptoms start slowly. The first symptom may be a barely noticeable tremor in just one hand. Tremors are common, but the disorder also may cause stiffness or slowing of movement. In the early stages of Parkinson’s disease, your face may show little or no expression. Your arms may not swing when you walk. Your speech may become soft or slurred. Parkinson’s disease symptoms worsen as your condition progresses over time. Along with the motor symptoms, Parkinson’s disorder can also lead to non-motor symptoms like depression, anxiety, fatigue and sleeping issues.

The cause remains largely unknown. Scientists believe a combination of genetic and environmental factors are the cause.

Early symptoms may be mild and go unnoticed. The symptoms often begin on one side of the body and usually remain worse on that side, even after they begin to affect the limbs on both sides.

Rhythmic shaking, called tremor, usually begins in a limb, often in hand or fingers. This is known as a pill-rolling tremor, the hand may tremble when it’s at rest. The shaking may decrease when performing tasks.

Over time, Parkinson’s disease may slow movement, making simple tasks difficult and time-consuming. Steps may become shorter when walking. It may be difficult to get out of a chair; a person may drag or shuffle his or her feet as they try to walk.

Muscle stiffness may occur in any part of the body. The stiff muscles can be painful and limit the range of motion. Posture may become stooped, or a person may fall or have balance problems.

Patients may have a decreased ability to perform unconscious movements, including blinking, smiling or swinging the arms when walking. Person may speak softly or quickly, slur, or hesitate before talking, the speech may be more of a monotone rather than have the usual speech patterns.

It may become hard to write, and writing may appear small.

The field of Parkinson’s research is ongoing and ever-evolving as we learn more about this disease.

Scientists are exploring ways to identify biomarkers for PD that can lead to earlier diagnosis and more tailored treatments to slow down the disease process. Currently, all therapies used for PD can minimise the symptoms but do not slow or halt the disease progression. It is important that we equip ourselves with the most current information regarding this debilitating disease.

WAYNE CAMPBELL

waykam@yahoo.com