Raising awareness on Parkinson's Disease

Thursday, 12 Apr 2012, 14:56


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World Parkinson’s Day, which is celebrated on the 11 April, commemorates the birthday of Dr. James Parkinson, who established the disease when he produced a paper entitled ‘An Essay on the Shaking Palsy’. According to 2009 statistics, 6.3 million people worldwide, including some 800 in Malta suffer from this disease.

Famous people who suffered from PD include the American actor Michael J. Fox, legendary boxer Muhammed Ali, and Pope John Paul II.

During this week, the Malta Parkinson's Disease Association is organising several events to raise awareness about Parkinson’s disease (PD) and its effect on those individuals with PD, their relatives and their carers.

Parkinson's disease is a progressive neurological condition. It occurs when a large percentage of the substance called dopamine, contained in cells in part of the brain, is lost. This chemical is responsible to control movements and therefore a reduction of this chemical will cause problems in movement.

The main symptoms of PD are rigidity, slowness of movement and tremor. As well as affecting movement, people with PD can find that other issues, such as tiredness, pain and depression, can have an impact on their day-to-day lives. Many of the symptoms of PD can be controlled over the years by using a combination of drugs, therapy and in some cases even surgery.

There is no cure for PD, it a chronic and progressive disease. Patients need to undergo occupational and speech therapy on a regular basis.

In Malta it is estimated that there are 1,000 individuals suffering from this disease. The Malta Parkinson’s Disease Association (MPDA) was founded in 2008 – it is the first association in Malta to provide support to persons living with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) and their families. MPDA is a registered charity (VO/0061) run by a committee of volunteers. On January 28th, a new committee was elected made up of seven members. MPDA is also a member organisation of the European Parkinson’s Disease Association (EPDA).

"Our main aims are to give advice and information regarding PD to persons with Parkinson’s and their carers; to promote and raise awareness of the difficulties faced by persons with Parkinson’s and their carers; to raise funds to support us in our aims and to contribute towards research into finding a cure for this disease," MPDA Social Secretary Roberta Chetcuti Galea told maltastar.com.

MPDA holds monthly meetings for its members to provide information and support for all those who attend. MPDA members range from people with PD, relatives, carers and also professionals working with people with PD.

This week events

Throughout this week MPDA organised a series of activities to raise awareness about PD. These included material distribution at The Strand Sliema, and Bugibba Promenade on Saturday 7 April. An information stand was also set up during the week at the Rehabilitation Hospital Karin Grech.

On Thursday 12 April, the Animae Gospel Choir will give a mini concert “Searching for the Soul” at Sagrestia Vaults, Waterfront Valletta in aid of MPDA. Tickets for this event cost €10 and can be purchased by calling on 99992008 or sending an e-mail at info@maltaparkinsons.com. Refreshments will be served following the concert.

On Saturday 14 April, MPDA will be holding its monthly meeting at the Catholic Institute in Floriana. During this meeting, Mr Michael Micallef will be holding a Thai Chi class and demonstration emphasising on the benefits for people with PD to practice Thai Chi. Non-members are welcome to attend the meeting against a payment of €3. Individuals, who are interested to become members of the association, are also welcome to attend the meeting this Saturday and join the association.

For more information visit MPDA’s web page www.maltaparkinsons.com, e-mail : info@maltaparkinsons.com, call on +356 99992008 or visit FB page: Malta Parkinson’s Disease Association. Postal address is: Malta Parkinson’s Disease Association, PO BOX 17, Marsa. MTP 1001. 

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