1m in Pakistan have Parkinson’s disease

KARACHI: Nearly half or 500,000 people with Parkinson’s Disease are not taking medication at all in Pakistan, according to Pakistan Parkinson’s Society chairman Dr Haroon Bashir.

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that results from degeneration of neurons in a region of the brain that controls movement. Dr Bashir launched his website ‘www.parkinsons.org.pk’ for a three-month trial period last week. “Unfortunately, there are no facilities for PD in Pakistan and the randomly collected data reveals that there are around one million patients in the country,” he told Daily Times. “Of these patients, around 400,000 to 450,000 are being treated by family doctors.”

Parkinson’s is not curable but with the proper help, patients can be given relief.

According to a recent study carried out by the University of Rochester, PD is no longer limited to the elderly (over 60 years) and is creeping up among the 30 to 50 year age group. “However, the cause for this change is still not known,” said Bashir. He said that as far as he knew, the Aga Khan University Hospital was planning to establish a ‘Movement Disorders Clinic’ for patients of PD.

Often, the first symptom of Parkinson’s disease is tremor (trembling or shaking) of a limb, especially when the body is at rest, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. The tremor often begins on one side of the body, frequently in one hand. Other common symptoms include slow movement (bradykinesia), an inability to move (akinesia), rigid limbs, a shuffling gait, and a stooped posture. People with Parkinson’s disease often show reduced facial expressions and speak in a soft voice. Occasionally, the disease also causes depression, personality changes, dementia, sleep disturbances, speech impairments, or sexual difficulties. The severity of Parkinson’s symptoms tends to worsen over time. When symptoms grow severe, doctors usually prescribe levodopa (L-dopa), which helps replace the brain’s dopamine.

Source: Daily Times, 11/8/2008

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