KARACHI: As many as 50 Parkinson’s patients from different walks of life sit together with a neurology specialist to discuss their illness on the first Thursday of every month.
These patients are part of a support group that holds its meetings at the sports centre seminar room of Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH). Through this platform patients meet specialised doctors and other Parkinson’s patients to discuss their health and spread awareness about the disease.
Professor of neurology at AKUH, Dr Muhammad Wasay, urges patients to understand their situation and lend a helping hand to others who are suffering from Parkinson’s. “One should never give up hope. [You should] keep trying and keep living,” he said citing an example of a paralysed 19-year-old girl who trained herself to communicate with her eyes.
The professor of neurology briefly explained how to stay healthy with Parkinson’s disease and how to live with it. According to him, the symptoms of the disease worsen with age but will never be the reason for your death. He encouraged patients to exercise and eat healthy.
The only way to keep Parkinson’s under control is to understand the dimensions of the disease, he said. “We all know that [Parkinson’s] is a lifelong disease that cannot be cured,” he said. “We should be psychologically aware of its symptoms [because] we can control it while working, driving and even playing,” Wasay added.
“Parkinson’s is a slow and mild disability,” he said, encouraging patients who have suffered from Parkinson’s for more than a decade to help patients in the initial stages. “You know a lot about the disease, you are a better doctor of yourself than I am to you,” he claimed.
Patients with a long history of Parkinson’s are also helpful for doctors, he reasoned, explaining how they can help doctors understand the patients’ problems and how to deal with a patient’s reluctance towards treatment.
Talking about the frequency of the disease, Wasay said that in 80 per cent of the cases the disease is slow and can be classified as ‘moderate’ after seven years of its initial diagnosis. “In the initial stage, you can do everything like driving, working or exercising,” he explained, relating that many doctors and engineers perform their duties despite being Parkinson’s patients.
The Pakistan Parkinson’s Society’s representative, Irshad Jan, announced that with the help of the Pakistan Neurology Society, Dr Wasay and his team are preparing 12 video programmes with basic information and symptoms about Parkinson’s to help patients with the rehabilitation process.
“The videos will be available on DVD, online and will also be aired on all mainstream media channels to spread awareness,” he told The Express Tribune.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 8th, 2015.