It’s been a shaky 3 years since he received his diagnosis of Parkinson’s. 55 year old Subhash Verma (name changed) realized something was amiss when he lost his sense of smell. “I had no idea what was wrong. My feet and hands would tremble, I had pain in my joints, my movements slowed down, and I became forgetful and indifferent to my family. Moreover I couldn’t write anything in legible handwriting,” he says. After a frightening incident when he couldn’t cross a busy traffic intersection, his wife Sunita decided to consult their family physician, who observed the slowing down of Subhash’s body functions, and suggested they consult a neurologist.
At Paras Hospitals, Gurgaon, Subhash was diagnosed with stage 2 Parkinson’s disease. “This is a progressive neurodegenerative disease caused by the loss of the dopamine producing cells in the brain. Though not life threatening, the nerve cells die out over time and movement gets affected. Fatigue and abnormal heart regulations are also associated with Parkinson’s,”said Dr Kapil Agarwal, Consultant Neurology.
According to Parkinson’s Society India, this neurodegenerative disease is globally distributed, affecting all cultures and races, with an estimated worldwide prevalence of 6.3 million people. Parkinson’s affects more men than women, and the prevalence in the over-60 age group is higher. “Many Indians have Parkinson’s. Though the prevalence may seem lower than Europe, the total number of those with the disease in country will pose a huge burden to the healthcare systems since they need specialized support, treatment, guidance and most importantly counseling,” says Dr. Meena Gupta, Sr. Consultant Neurology, Paras Hospitals, Gurgaon.
Despite the lack of cure, a well-rounded treatment plan can help a person with Parkinson’s cope better with the symptoms and live a more productive life. The Paras Institute of Neurosciences offers the latest therapies which are associated with counselling, medication and lifestyle modifications. The program is recommended to each patient, and specialists at the hospital monitor their progress closely. At present, those like Subhash follow their doctor’s prescription and opt for supportive therapies such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, creative and cognitive rehabilitation coupled with counseling to boost morale. “Subhash has really benefitted from the rehabilitation program at Paras Hospitals. The doctors and the staff are very supportive and have given him the strength to support our family,” says Sunita.
Subhash smiles as he listens to his wife and scribbles this on a piece of paper: “Yes, I may have Parkinson’s, but Parkinson’s will not have me.”