The incidence of Parkinson’s Disease increases with age, with almost 1 per cent of people above 65 years suffering from this illness. Though the number of patients varies across different states in India, various studies have shown that an average of 30 to 40 people per 1 lakh population in the country suffer from Parkinson’s Disease, which is high when adjusted for age. Also Read – Unable to Lose Belly Fat? Top 5 Prime Causes That Can Lead To A Growth Of Your Belly Fat – Watch Video
Though Parkinson’s is primarily a neurodegenerative disease of old age (usually above 60 years), about 3-5 per cent of cases are in young people. More cases of Parkinson’s are now being recognized in the younger population due to increasing awareness. Also Read – World Brain Tumour Day 2022: When Is Headache a Symptom of Brain Tumour?
Dr Ritu Jha, HOD & Senior Consultant – Neurology, Sarvodaya Hospital, Faridabad says that Parkinson’s affects males twice as much as females. According to some studies, the prevalence is also slightly higher in the rural population in India compared to the urban. Also Read – Corona, Monkeypox, Tomato Flu, Mars to Norovirus, These 8 Viruses Wreaking Havoc Across The World
While patients with Parkinson’s Disease are doing much better these days with the availability of more treatment options, increasing life span means there is more disability and disease burden.
Parkinson’s patients face many challenges in terms of treatment. First and foremost is the acceptability of this lifelong disease that requires medicines as long as one lives. Other challenges include the cost of the medicine, access to a health facility where Parkinson’s treatment is available and adapting to the disease by making changes in one’s lifestyle to live with the disorder. Many patients, when diagnosed, first go into denial and then become withdrawn, as they are not as good functionally as earlier.
Dr Jha further adds, “Parkinson’s patients also have many non-motor symptoms such as depression, mood changes and cognitive decline. These are hardly recognized by physicians or family members as part of the disease and hence are addressed poorly.”
Treatment of Parkinson’s
Treatment for Parkinson’s has come a long way with new drugs, procedures like Deep Brain Stimulation and effective rehabilitation programs. Apomorphine injections and pumps are also available to decrease the “off periods” when medication, namely levodopa, is not working optimally, but these need to be used under strict supervision. Gene therapy and stem cell therapy are also being evaluated as newer modalities but are still in experimental stages.
The Government needs to partner with neuro-physicians to spread awareness about Parkinson’s Disease in India, and establish rehabilitation centres and palliative care centres where patients suffering from advanced stages of the disease can be provided care. The cost of Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) surgery also needs to be brought down so that more and more Parkinson’s patients can benefit from it.