The Lloyd Tan Parkinson’s Trust Fund
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a brain disorder that occurs when certain nerve cells or neurons in the brain die or become impaired. When this happens, these cells no longer produce a chemical called dopamine, which facilitate the smooth, coordinated function of our muscles. When about 80% of these neurons die or get damaged, that’s when Parkinson’s makes an appearance.
One of the misconceptions about Parkinson’s disease is that it’s a disease of old age.
It’s not. Just ask Michael J. Fox, who was diagnosed with the disease when he was 30 years old. The tell-tale signs include tremors, slowness of movement, rigidity, difficulty with balance, small, cramped handwriting, stiff facial expressions, a shuffling walk, muffled speech, and depression.
There is a misconception that Parkinson’s is an old-age disease but, in fact, about 15% of people diagnosed with Parkinson’s come from the 50-year-old and below age bracket. The disease strikes anyone regardless of gender, age, social status, culture, or profession.
And it gets worse as the process of diagnosing the disease is difficult, at best, as there is no one simple test when it comes to confirming the presence of Parkinson’s. A doctor can only arrive at a diagnosis for the condition only through a patient’s medical history and a series of physical examinations.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs) and blood tests can help rule out other conditions that have similar symptoms, but those who are suspected to be suffering from Parkinson’s should seek out a neurologist who specialises in Parkinson’s Disease.
Parkinson’s is also not just a movement disorder as patients can also suffer from a long list of non-motor symptoms such as depression, confusion, hallucination, anxiety, and dementia as well as intestinal disorders, loss of sense of smell, and sleep disturbances.
It is also believed that several non-motor symptoms such as loss of sense of smell, depression, sleep disorders, fatigue, anxiety, and constipation may precede the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s by a few years, and thus can be considered as early symptoms of the disease.
Can it be treated?
Parkinson’s remains an incurable illness. Due to the progressive loss of brain cells, Parkinson’s progresses with time, resulting in gradual and inevitable deterioration of the initial motor symptoms. As the illness advances, the non-motor symptoms such as psychiatric disorders also become more frequent, especially during the advanced stage of illness.
In addition, many patients also develop involuntary body movements and suffer reduced effects of medications towards the later stage of the illness. All these complications result in long-term disability in Parkinson’s patients and in almost all aspects of life – physical, mental, occupational, and social.
There are, however, a number of effective medicines that help ease the symptoms of the disease. Most symptoms are caused by a lack of dopamine, and medicines most commonly used will attempt to either replace or mimic dopamine, which help to reduce tremors, lessen rigidity, and improves slowness of movements associated with Parkinson’s disease. Several new medicines are also being studied that may slow the progression of the disease. Many promise to improve the lives of people with the disease.
The Lloyd Tan Parkinson’s Trust Fund
Set up in 2008 with the HSBC (Malaysia) Trustee Bhd as its sole trustee, the fund is meant to assist lower income group sufferers to be able to undertake the prohibitively expensive DBS surgery. Those interested to know more about the fund can check the fund’s website at http://www.lloydtan-trust.com/.
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