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Covid 19 pandemic throws new challenges for Parkinson's Disease patients

Covid 19 pandemic throws new challenges for Parkinsons Disease patients
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Covid 19 pandemic throws new challenges for Parkinson’s Disease patients

Highlights

Parkinson’s disease starts as minor problems with movement.

Parkinson's disease starts as minor problems with movement. This is a progressive neurological disorder, and from initial symptoms loss of smell, constipation, change in voice, dream enacting, dizziness and fainting, the disease has debilitating effect as its progress. Depression, hallucinations, psychosis, attention and memory issues, anxiety, disturbed sleep, skin ailments…. It causes a great deal of disability and suffering to both the individual and the family members taking care of the patient and affects over 7 million people of all ages globally, a figure that is expected to double by 2050!

World Brain Day, which falls on July 22, seeks to focus attention on and raise awareness about Parkinson's disease,(PD); the most common degenerative and progressive disorder of the brain caused by a reduction in the dopamine-producing cells.

For a disease that is so prevalent, the exact cause of PD is still not known. Some of the predisposing factors include family history, head injury, brain stroke, those working in mining industries, and exposure to pesticides. Its symptoms are encapsulated in the acronym TRAP – tremors, rigidity, akinesia (slowness of movement) and postural instability. While a majority of those diagnosed are over the age of 50 years, there have been cases of those under 40 years of age also being affected. Men, rather than women, are more likely to develop Parkinson's disease.

Treatment for Parkinson's disease includes drugs, exercise and a healthy lifestyle. It calls for a coordinated effort by Neurologists, Psychologists, Physiotherapists, Occupational and Speech Therapists to provide holistic care to patients. In selected individuals with the disease in an advanced stage, Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS)may be recommended. It involves implantation of an electrode to stimulate targeted regions of the brain with electrical impulses generated by a battery-operated neuro-stimulator. In simpler words, it is a pacemaker for the brain.

Being aware of the condition and taking timely action can ensure that those afflicted with Parkinson's Disease can continue to enjoy a good quality of life.

In the current COVID-19 pandemic, most of those affected by Parkinson's Disease are at risk, essentially because of their age. It is also important to choose a specialized hospital that segregates COVID patients in order to prevent cross-infection."By exercising regularly at home and following the neurologist's prescription, one can stay healthy. Although online consultation with the neurologist is preferred during this period, there may be emergencies when a hospital visit is imperative," shares Dr Abhinay M. Huchche, Neurologist at SLG Hospitals, which is also offering a 50% concession on brain MRI during this month. Patients with headache, vertigo, stroke, epilepsy, dementia and Parkinson's disease can avail this discount.

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