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Parkinson’s Awareness Month

April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month

Affinity Health heightens awareness of Parkinson’s disease (PD), its risk, onset and the progression of this nervous system disorder.

What is Parkinson’s Disorder?

Parkinson’s Disorder is a neurodegenerative disorder that globally affects some seven to 10 million people.

It affects a small area of nerve cells (neurons) in the brain known as the substantia nigra. These cells produce dopamine, a chemical that transmits signals between areas in the brain.

When working normally, these cells also coordinate smooth and balanced muscle movement. PD causes these nerve cells to die, and as a result, body movements are affected.

While most people diagnosed with the disorder are over the age of 56, it can strike during middle life – and in some cases, younger. For example, Emmy Award winner, Michael J Fox, who was diagnosed with young-onset PD at the age of 29. 

Symptoms begin gradually and in the early stages may start with a barely noticeable tremor in only one hand and worsen over time, making simple tasks challenging and time-consuming. As time passes, your body may become rigid, your posture and balance impaired, and your speech slurred.

Other symptoms of PD may include:

  • Shuffling when walking 
  • Falling 
  • Losing balance 
  • Difficulty getting out of a chair
  • Feeling exhausted/ tired all the time 
  • Difficulty writing 
  • Difficulty speaking, soft speech, or voice box spasms
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty feeding yourself
  • Dementia, confusion, or difficulty thinking and understanding
  • Jaw stiffness or reduced facial expression

Affinity Health Primary Healthcare Professionals Care

Although Parkinson’s disease can’t be cured – and the cause of the illness still not entirely known – rehabilitation can assist in slowing down its progression and managing symptoms to optimise quality of life.

“There is very real hope that the causes of PD will be identified and a cure found one day,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.

“Until then, the key to successfully managing symptoms is to seek rehabilitation as early as possible.”

Affinity Health recommends that a person with symptoms resembling those of PD consider making an appointment with a movement disorder specialist.

Living with Parkinson’s can make basic daily functions difficult to complete, especially after coming out of the hospital. Affinity Health has partnered with an established Nurses Network to assist patients with Palliative and Post-Hospital Care.

Affinity Health’s multidisciplinary national network of nurses is available to assist members with telephonic counselling and support, as well as comprehensive home-based care.

Download the Affinity Health Private Home Nursing Benefit Guide

About Affinity Health

Affinity Health aims to provide premier quality, affordable medical insurance to South Africans. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service when they are faced with injury or illness. We work to deliver innovative solutions that are simple, cost-effective, and proven, so our cover is structured to ensure that you get exactly what you need. For more information, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn

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