April.. raising awareness about Parkinson's Disease!
What if you find yourself unable to move while trying to cross the road? Drivers shouting, cars hooting…how would you feel?
Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a debilitating neurodegenerative disorder which causes a gradual loss of muscle control. Its cause has not yet been determined but both genetic and environmental factors are thought to be implicated. Interestingly, residing in a rural environment as well as being exposed to pesticide/herbicides is associated with its development.
PD results from loss of dopamine-producing neurons in a specific area of the brain known as the substantia nigra. Thus, brain messages involved in movement co-ordination cannot be relayed by this important chemical, leading to motor dysfunction. Patients usually experience what is known as the classical Parkinsonian triad of symptoms: rigidity, tremor and bradykinesia (slowness in the execution of movement). Other symptoms include loss of facial expression and impaired balance. The latter makes PD patients susceptible to fall injuries.
Currently available treatment includes medication and deep brain stimulation. This surgical option, however, is only effective for a small group of patients that meet specific criteria.
Maintaining independence becomes an ongoing struggle for PD patients. Cognitive decline, depression, and personality changes may ensue leading to considerable mental and emotional turmoil. Psychosocial support should therefore be sought by both patients and their carers. For more information visit: www.pdf.org or www.maltaparkinsons.
Did you know…?
- PD affects about 1% of individuals over the age of 60.
- It is 1.5 times more likely to occur in men than in women.
- In Malta around 630 people currently suffer from the disease.
The Malta Medical Students' Association (MMSA) is giving a shout-out this April – Parkinson’s Disease awareness month. Let’s inform ourselves and offer our support. Share a PD tulip on your social networking sites and make a difference!
Visit www.mmsa.org.mt for more info about the organisation