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Parkinson's Disease Awareness Day

PARKINSON'S DISEASE is a progressive, neuro-degenerative disease. It is more common in the older population and occurs sporadically, but younger patients below 40 years of age with onset of symptoms and heredo-familial cases are also seen. Typically the disease affects a person’s movement; the movements become slower (also known as Bradykinesia), and manifest as lack of facial expression, monotonous speech, lack of arm swing during walking, small steps and a shuffling gait, and difficulty with rapid alternating movement. Tremor at rest is a common feature. It usually starts in one limb and progresses to involve other limbs over time – and it is often exacerbated when the patient is nervous or distracted. Rigidity is present as stiffness of the limbs and body. Patients often complain of body aches and tend to adopt a stooped posture with bent knees.Parkinson's Disease also affects more than just movement and muscles. Patients could lose their sense of smell, get constipation, feel a frequent urge to urinate, and some might develop sleep related problems such as talking and gesturing in sleep.

At an advanced stage, memory will be affected and some patients begin to hallucinate. Parkinson's disease has no cure but effective treatments are available. Various medications can help to alleviate symptoms of Parkinson's disease and preserve the patient's quality of life for at least 10-20 years. For more advanced and symptomatic patients, infusion therapy either through subcutaneous injection or into the digestive system are now an option in some tertiary centres, including Sarawak General Hospital. Selected Parkinson's disease patients have been offered Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) surgery with good results. This surgery can be performed in highly specialised government and private hospitals in Malaysia. Managing patients with Parkinson's disease not only requires optimisation of medical therapy, but also a multidisciplinary and holistic approach targeting other, non-medical domains.

It should be a combined effort of doctor, nurse, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, psychiatrist and social worker, with the full support and participation of patient’s family members or caretaker.Parkinson's Disease Awareness Day has been held as a yearly event in Kuching since 2014 to increase public awareness and understanding of the disease, so that early symptoms can be identified and prompt treatment can be initiated.A Parkinson's support group has been set up in Kuching in 2015 and in Sibu in 2014, respectively. The Parkinson's Support Group Kuching is led by a Parkinson's patient. It provides a platform for patients and families to meet together to share knowledge and to fight the disease. The participants gather once a month with the support of volunteer health care providers from various fields. Activities that have been carried out during the gatherings include Tai Chi exercises, physiotherapy, fall prevention exercises and lectures regarding Parkinson medications.

We hope these programs can create more public awareness regarding Parkinson's disease and the various treatment options and supportive care available. With appropriate treatments, many Parkinson's disease patients can continue to enjoy a quality life! We wish to thank Sarawak General Hospital’s director, Dr Chin Zin Hin for his support, doctors, nurses, allied health personal, patients and family members who have dedicated their time and effort to make Parkinson's Disease Awareness Day and the support groups possible and sustainable. We would also like to thank Lion's Club Kuching-Kota Samarahan as the co-sponsor of 2016 Parkinson's Disease Awareness Day.

Parkinson's Support Group Contacts: KUCHING – Mary Lu 016-895 1877 SIBU – Mr. Wong 016-347 1853


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