Lack of awareness of the disease

Lack of awareness about Parkinson’s disease may result in the disease becoming a major healthcare challenge in the near future,” said Prof Hashmi, who is a consultant neurosurgeon and former head of the Neurosurgery Department, Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, at a public awareness seminar, which was held at the Neurospinal & Cancer Care Postgraduate Institute

“Parkinson’s disease, which is a progressive nervous system disorder, is likely to cause different symptoms in every individual. The symptoms usually begin to show on one side of the body and get worse on that side. The first few symptoms of Parkinson’s disease involve tremors or shakiness followed by slow movement. You will feel the sensation of shaking in your limbs, even when at rest. The disease can make your steps shorter. thus making it difficult for you to walk.

“Simple tasks like getting up from a chair may also become difficult. Your muscles become stiff and your posture stooped. A person may find it too difficult to perform unconscious movements like smiling, swinging and blinking. You may find it difficult to write with your hand and you may speak softly or quickly. Some people also tend to slur or hesitate before talking. About 30 per cent of PD patients develop a serious problem with their intelligence: they become demented and this becomes the main issue in their management.”

Prof Hashmi said that when nerve cells in the brain begin to break down or die, it may result in decrease in levels of dopamine. “Dopamine is a substance that allows nerve impulses to travel smoothly from one cell to the other. When this gets reduced, the messages from the brain to the nerve cells aren’t properly transmitted, hence causing tremors, rigidity, and slowness of movement among patients. Genetic mutations may be possible for Parkinson’s disease. Exposure to certain toxic or environmental factors may also cause this disease. If you have a close relation with someone who has Parkinson’s disease, you are at higher risk of it and the best way to prevent it is to live a healthy lifestyle.”

The neurosurgeon said that a few dietary changes may also help prevent Parkinson’s disease. “Ditch regular consumption of junk and processed foods, and switch to a healthy and nutritious diet. Foods like leafy green vegetables, fruits, protein-rich foods, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and good fats can help in improving brain health and reduce risk of Parkinson’s disease.

“People who exercise regularly are definitely at lower risk of developing Parkinson’s. Moving your body increases blood flow to your brain. This increases oxygen production in the brain, which in turn triggers biochemical changes that protect new neurons.”

“A healthy sleep is one of the most essential prerequisites of Parkinson’s disease. It is when you sleep that your brain processes information, clears out toxins and consolidates memories. Not getting enough sleep does not give your brain the time to perform its essential activities, and makes room for neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease.

“Chronic stress can disrupt regular brain activity and result in Parkinson’s disease. Long-term stress can in fact be toxic for the brain and you must make efforts to take less stress. You should try to change your attitude towards stressful situations and try not to give reaction to every stressful situation that occurs in your life,” advised Prof Abdul Sattar.

The PD usually starts after the age of 50 years in Pakistan, and then progresses gradually. Sometimes it starts earlier in life, or later such as after 65 years of age.

The initial stages can be very difficult to identify, and many patients go through several rounds of clinics and hospitals before they finally see a functional neurosurgeon or a neurologist who is able to correctly identify the disease. It affects men and women equally.

In the later stages, i.e. after the first three years, it is fairly easy to identify the problem; but in the first three years, the signs can be subtle and missed easily. Brain scans which are done routinely (CT scan, MRI scan) don’t show any changes in these patients. A PET scan using a particular radio-isotope has been shown to have some sensitivity in differentiating PD from other rarer forms of movement disorders; but this test is not done routinely due to the cost involved and unavailability in most areas of Pakistan.

afflicted with early onset of Parkinson’s disease, was literally bound to the wheelchair without heavy dose of medication owing to involuntary tremors. Last year in September, she went in for a deep brain stimulation (DBS) procedure at NCCI, a revolutionary neurological procedure in Pakistan to manage the tremors and other associated symptoms,” Prof Abdul Sattar said, highlighting the efficacy of DBS in Pakistani patients.

The patient has since returned to a normal life. “The whole procedure of DBS programming went well and it has relieved me from a lot of pain, made my movement easier, and it has reduced the amount of medication I take which in return has made me feel stronger and having more energy,” Fareeda said.

“Deep brain stimulation involves implanting electrodes within certain areas of your brain. These electrodes produce electrical impulses that regulate abnormal impulses. This method is greatly effective in PD patients but also used for tremors in other disease like epilepsy. In PD one sees patients suffer from tremors, stiffness, rigidity, extreme tics and so on. DBS does not cure the disease but is able to help most of these symptoms, halve the medications and provide a good quality of life for the patient,” elaborated by Prof Sattar.

“The amount of stimulation in DBS is controlled by like device which is like a battery, placed under the skin in the upper portion of the chest. A wire under the skin connects this device to the electrodes in your brain. The programming is carried out as and outpatient procedure and is completed under 30 minutes. Depending on their condition patients might want the programming to be tweaked to high or low stimulation from time to time. One can opt for a rechargeable battery that lasts for over 20 years or the non-rechargeable battery that requires to be changed every four years,” he further explained.

Source: This news is originally published by thenews

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