More than 100,000 Canadians are living with Parkinson’s disease today. In British Columbia alone, there are 13,000 individuals living with PD. While Parkinson’s disease typically affects older individuals with the average age of onset being 60, it can affect someone as young as 30 or 40; known as early-onset Parkinson’s. As there are no tests that can confirm Parkinson’s disease, a diagnosis will take time. Generally, a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease is based on symptoms presented by the patient such as tremors, muscle rigidity, impaired balance, slowness or stiffness. An individual with Parkinson’s may also experience fatigue, speech problems and sleep disturbances, and other non-motor symptoms such as depression, trouble swallowing, sexual problems and cognitive changes. It is important to note that Parkinson’s progresses at different rates in every individual, and one person may not experience the same symptoms as another.
Ali Ghahary, a family doctor from Vancouver, will carefully look over a patient’s medical history and do a thorough examination as well as refer patients for any necessary testing to rule out any other medical conditions that may mimic Parkinson’s.
While there is no cure for Parkinson’s, certain therapies can help manage the symptoms associated with the disease such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and exercise.
As part of Parkinson’s Awareness Month, the Parkinson Society of Canada works with patients and their families by providing support and educational material. In addition, they also fund research into finding causes and treatment options in hope of giving patients an improved quality of life. Similarly, the Parkinson Society of British Columbia also offers resources and holds educational and fundraising events. In 2016, they launched the ‘This Is Parkinson’s Disease’ campaign in effort to bring together individuals living with Parkinson’s disease and sharing their real-life stories.
For more information on how you can get involved in the fight against Parkinson’s Disease, visit http://www.parkinson.ca or http://www.parkinson.bc.ca. You can also find more information on Dr. Ali Ghahary’s blog and by following him on social media – on Twitter at @DrAliGhahary, and on Instagram.