Busting the Parkinson’s myths

Read on as we bust certain myths surrounding this neurologic disease

By Dr Vasundhra Atre


A degenerative neurologic disorder that progresses gradually, Parkinsons disease typically impairs motor skills, speech, writing, as also certain other functions. Certain misconceptions surround this neurologic disorder.



Myth: Only elderly people get Parkinson’s disease.
Fact: This is not true. While this disease does tend to affect those in their fifties or early sixties more often, it does occur in younger people as well. Early-onset Parkinson’s disease has been frequently found in people under the age of 40. It has been identified in someone as young as two years old. The younger patients often experience vibrations and more involuntary movements. They do not tend to suffer from balance or walking problems as much or have their thinking processes impaired like the older patients.

Myth: All Parkinson patients suffer from tremors.
Fact:
Tremors which are the most common symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are found in approximately 70% of those affected. No form of tremors is experienced by 15 to 25% of those affected.

Myth: Those suffering from Parkinson’s disease are mad, sad, or just plain grumpy.
Fact: 
Parkinson’s patients have what is called a masked face or may lack expression.  They lack the muscle control of their facial muscles. With progression of the condition their ability to communicate with others also suffers. Additionally, these patients may struggle with depression. This gives an impression of being sad or grumpy.

Myth: Parkinson’s disease can be prevented.
Fact:
Parkinson’s disease is said to be caused by a combination of a genetic predisposition and environmental factors. The exact cause of the disease remains unidentified. Without this information, prevention is not possible.

Myth: Modifying lifestyle cannot help to improve symptoms of the disease.
Fact:
Lifestyle changes can help reduce the severity of symptoms. Regular exercise, particularly muscle strengthening exercises and walking and dietary changes may not slow the progression but can reduce the severity of symptoms.

Myth: Those suffering from Parkinson’s disease cannot live independent and productive lives.

Fact:
This is not true. The disease progression varies from person to person. Some suffer milder form of the condition compared to others. Even the symptoms and their severity differ. Regular exercise, dietary changes and proper medication can help those suffering to be independent and lead productive lives. In many cases individuals are able to continue their jobs.

Myth: Parkinson’s disease will cause death.
Fact:
While individuals who suffer from Parkinson’s do have special health concerns it has not been proven to be fatal. Respiratory infections especially pneumonia is of special concern. Inability to move around may also make them more prone to other infections.

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