One of the many unfortunate things in the life of a human is sickness. Our lives are often cut short by the onset of different kinds of illness and disorders as we age. One such major neurodegenerative disorder is Parkinsons disease. It is the most common movement disorder that people suffer from. A major characteristic is a progressive loss of muscle control. This leads to trembling of the limbs and head while at rest. Other symptoms like stiffness, slowness, and impaired balance are also a part of the disease. As it progresses, patients lose the ability to walk, talk and even do simple tasks like dressing themselves in the morning, brushing teeth and so on.
Learning about Parkinsons disease and its characteristics
April is celebrated as Parkinsons awareness month. James Parkinson, the physician who first described the disease in ‘An Essay on the Shaking Palsy’ had his birthday on April 11 which is celebrated as World Parkinsons Day.
In honor of the date, the Parkinsons Society – Goa will organize unity walks in Panaji and Margao on April 21 and April 29 respectively. There will also be a cultural programme at Sanskruti Bhavan (Central Library) on April 22. “The patients with Parkinson’s from our various support groups across Goa will be performing on stage,” says Joanne D’Souza, physiotherapist, and coordinator, Parkinsons Society-Goa.
Parkinsons is said to affect people that over the age of 60, however, there have been cases where early-onset Parkinsons has reared its ugly head. And unfortunately, while the Parkinsons Society – Goa has around 500 cases registered, there are still a lot that haven’t been.
Characteristics of the disease
The disease is one wherein a degradation of the central nervous system occurs due to degeneration of brain cells. “The group of cells which degenerate are the dopaminergic cells which cause a deficiency of dopamine in the brain resulting in physical difficulties such as slowness of movements, tremors, rigidity or stiffness and postural instability,” says Ms. D’Souza.
This disease can also result in secondary symptoms like anxiety, lack of sleep, and emotional disturbance. Patients become confused and even suffer from memory loss sometimes. This results in them developing Alzheimer’s disease in a lot of cases.
“There is no conclusive evidence about the cause of the disease but some scientists believe it may be caused due to environmental toxins which may affect the body’s ability to produce dopamine (a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centres). It can also be due to genetic factors, though it accounts for only 10 to 15 percent of the cases,” adds D’Souza.
Ms. D’Souza spoke to the Navhind Times and had a lot more to say on the topic which you can read about here.
Creating awareness about the disease
Goa is trying to do its bit in creating awareness and that’s what the unity walks and the cultural programme are about. So if you have a patient in the family or among friends, come be a part of the celebrations too. Both events are open to everyone.
The ‘Unity walk for Parkinson’ on April 21 will start at Kala Academy at 4.45 p.m. and end at Miramar beach. The cultural program on April 22 will be held at Sanskruti Bhavan (Central Library) Panaji at 3 p.m. The following week, the same unity walk will be held in Margao on April 29 at 4.45 p.m. It will begin outside KTC bus stand Margao and end at Ravindra Bhavan.
Information credit – The Navhind Times/ MedicineNet