Understanding Parkinson’s Disease
By Danielle Sendou Ringgit
Known for his role as Marty McFly in the Back to the Future trilogy, actor Michael J Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 1991.
It was not until 1998, that he decided to go public with his condition and ever since then, he has been a strong advocate of Parkinson’s disease research.
In an effort to increase the public awareness on Parkinson’s disease, a Parkinson disease Awareness Day was held at Klinik Kesihatan, Batu Kawa on May 7th to to increase public awareness and understanding of the disease so that early symptoms could be identified and treatment can be initiated.
Most commonly seen in older population (around the age of 60 years old), patients in their 30s have also been diagnosed with the disease.
In his talk, KPJ Hospital Neurologist Consultant Dr. Chai Chiun Hain said that there are about three to six per cent Parkinson patients from the age of 21 to 40 years old, in which most of them are men.
“In Malaysia, the youngest patient we have seen with Parkinson disease is in his 30s,” said SGH Deputy Director (Clinical) Dr Norinawaty Abang Daud.
As of now, Dr Norinawaty also said that, there are 80 neurologists specialist that can help in diagnosing the disease in Malaysia.
“It is very important for the patients to be positive and patient. The disease may not be treatable, but it can be controlled. Do not let depression gets in the way,” she said during her speech.
As of now, the Parkinson support group has been set up in Kuching and Sibu in 2015 and 2014 respectively as a platform for patients and family to meet and share knowledge of the disease.
Held at 73A Jalan Tengah (Off Jalan Green Road) from 3 to 5 pm every last Saturday every month. Among the activities carried out during the gathering includes Tai Chi exercise, physiotherapy, fall prevention exercise and lectures regarding Parkinson medications.
“I hope that with these kind of programmes, members of the public would be more aware of the early symptoms of Parkinson disease, so that they will know what to do and understand more what the patients and their family members are going through so that we can help as much as we could, in terms of social welfare,” said SGH Neurologist Consultant Dr Law Wan Chung in his speech.
Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease presenting with movement disorder, causing a person to appear slow in movement, tremor at rest and experiences body stiffness. It also affects the digestive and urogenital systems, sleep, memory and cognitive function as the disease progresses.
Among the symptoms normally present in Parkinson’s patients are tremors, slow movement, and imbalance.
Parkinson’s disease occurs when dopamine (neurotransmitter in the brain) levels decrease in the brain.
Around the globe, there are about 10 mil patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease and in Malaysia alone, there are about 15,000 to 20, 000 Parkinson patients.
With the theme ‘Understanding Parkinson’s Disease-It Makes Sense’, the event was organised by the Neurology Unit, Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) with support from the Lions Club of Kuching-Kota Samarahan.