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World Parkinson’s Day

World Parkinson’s Day falls on April 11th and is used to highlight Parkinson’s Disease (PD), a condition affecting more than 10 million globally. Around 82,000 Australians are currently living with Parkinson’s disease and World Parkinson’s Day provides a chance for the community to raise awareness of Parkinson’s disease, as well as some of the amazing research being done right here in Australia and across the world.

Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative disorder affecting a region of the brain that controls movement and is diagnosed by neurological examination usually around the age of 65, with men being slightly more at risk than women. 1 in 10 are diagnosed before the age of 50, this is called young-onset Parkinson’s disease (YOPD). Those with Young-onset Parkinson’s may experience the disease differently and can experience a longer pathway to diagnosis and experience challenges unique to being in an earlier stage of life.

Symptoms

Symptoms of Parkinson’s can vary, and possible symptoms include:

Motor Symptoms

  • Bradykinesia – This is a slowness of movement and reduction of automatic movements (arms swinging when walking, blinking etc.)
  • Tremors in the thumb, fingers and hand
  • Stiffness in the shoulders and/or hips that can affect gait and walking
  • A change in posture – hunching over/ slouching when standing

Non-motor Symptoms & Frequent Comorbidities

  • Depression
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Musculoskeletal Issues
  • Sleep Disorders
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension

Treatment

Currently there is no cure for Parkinson’s Disease, but it is possible to have a good quality of life through treatment of the symptoms. Depending on the work, simple modifications can be made to workplaces enabling some PD sufferers to continue in the work, while some milder symptoms may not cause issue in all workplaces. Therapies that enable people living with Parkinson’s Disease to remain in work can have a huge impact on an individual’s quality of life, especially those with Young-onset Parkinson’s Disease and can cause people with PD and YOPD to leave the workforce early. Early use of occupational therapy to help develop strategies to address these issues proactively can help.

Rehab Management has an amazing team of Occupational Therapists who work with clients to develop strategies that enable them to continue doing the things they love. Our therapists help clients handle the challenges that come with their symptoms and provide solutions towards maintaining independence in many areas of their life. Studies into exercise and physical activity in people with PD have showed that those who regularly exercise had a smaller decline in motor ability and quality of life. Innovative programs like StepUp Today focuses on improving quality of life and helps participants set achievable goals towards overcoming challenges in their life.

Treatments for PD can include:

  • Oral medication & drug treatments
  • Deep Brain Stimulation
  • Physical & Supportive Therapies – Occupational Therapy, Speech Pathology, Psychology Physiotherapy

Studies have shown that treatment of comorbidities can enhance the effectiveness of PD therapies. Digital Wellness Platforms, such as Rehab Management’s CheckIn Today and MyDirection take a ‘whole-person’ approach considering an individual’s physical, vocational, psychological and emotional needs. These digital tools help people adjust to the impacts of their illness/injury by offering programs tailored to personal goals aimed at increasing activity and vocational outcomes and have been used to successfully treat issues like Depression and Sleep Disorders.

 

Research

Parkinson’s Disease is one of the fastest rising neurological conditions in the world, driven by a global rise in life expectancy. Multifaceted research focusing on identifying causes, detection, treatment, slowing the progression and prevention is being undertaken in partnerships with institutions around the globe, with ground-breaking research being done right here in Australia.

These projects include:

  • Biomarker identification to allow early detection of PD
  • New treatments for symptoms of Parkinson’s
  • Identification of causal factors (environmental and genetic)
  • Research aiming to slow and reverse the progression of PD

Resources

More information on Parkinson’s Disease, current research and treatments and information on how you can get involved can be found at:

https://www.parkinsons.org.au/

https://www.garvan.org.au/research/diseases/parkinsons-disease

https://shakeitup.org.au/research/our-research-projects/

https://www.parkinson.org/blog/awareness/YOPD-Workplace

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