There are an estimated 400,000 people suffering from Parkinson’s disease in Pakistan and over 6 million worldwide.
It is a chronic debilitating disease but there are treatments that can help relieve symptoms and slow its progress to help individuals live a better quality of life said experts from Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) at a seminar on World Parkinson’s Day.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr Saad Shafqat, Head of Neurology Section, AKUH said that though the disease can affect anyone, it usually appears in people over the age of 60. Diagnosis is based on medical history and on a methodical neurological examination as the symptoms of the disease can be caused by other neurological problems, head trauma and even medication. While tests such as MRI and CT scans are useful, they are not essential for the diagnosis.
Parkinson’s disease has many symptoms with the most common including tremors, stiffness and rigidity, imbalance and slowness of movement. As the disease is progressive, the symptoms become more severe over time explained Dr Mughis Sheerani, Consultant Neurologist, AKUH. It causes people to become slower and have difficulty talking, walking and even swallowing. But with the right combination of medication, physical exercise and therapy, people affected by Parkinson’s disease can live a healthy life.
During the course of the seminar, Dr Murtaza Mohammed, Consultant Pulmonologist, AKUH pointed out that sometimes there may be pulmonary complications. This may be the result of the disease itself or from the medications used to treat the symptoms. Parkinson’s patients should also look out for eye problems. Dr Mahnaz Naveed Shah, Consultant Eye Surgeon, AKUH said that these patients suffer a higher incidence of certain types of eye problems particularly those related to difficulty with focusing and following or tracking objects, double vision, dry eyes, infections of the eyelids and loss of fine colour perception.
Since people with Parkinson’s disease usually suffer from movement problems, physiotherapy plays a significant role in managing the disease. It helps people continue with their daily routine activities independently said Asim Mahmood, Physiotherapist, AKUH. It also helps in maintaining a good posture, in balancing and speaking clearer.
Creating awareness and spurring new research and treatment options are the main reasons for celebrating World Parkinson’s Day, explained Mr Haroon Bashir, Chairman, Pakistan Parkinson’s Society. The Day is a reminder of the everyday challenges faced by people with Parkinson’s and the support they receive from their families, friends and even the wider community.
Hassaan Akhter, Media Executive, Department of Public Affairs, Aga Khan University, Stadium Road, Karachi, on +92 21 3486 2927 or firstname.lastname@example.org