Parkinson’s Disease Recognized in April, Monthly Support Group Offered
This April millions of people around the world will observe Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month. Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disorder that occurs when certain nerve cells in the middle of the brain either die or become impaired. This interferes with coordinated muscle movements of the body.
"The disease is both chronic and progressive, meaning that symptoms gradually worsen over time," said Neurologist Gregory Dardas, M.D., of MidMichigan Physicians Group. "Currently, there is no cure or definitive cause for the disease. Early symptoms of Parkinson’s are subtle and sometimes can appear and disappear."
Four main symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease include: tremors, pin rolling movement between thumb and forefinger; bradykinesia, slow muscle movement or loss of automatic movement; rigidity, a stiffness or tightness of arms, legs and, less often, the trunk; and postural instability, impaired balance and coordination. There are many secondary symptoms that occur as the disease progresses, but no one person develops all of these symptoms.
"The course of Parkinson’s disease varies from person to person. Often it is family or friends who notice changes in their loved ones first," said Dr. Dardas. "When a diagnosis of the disease is suspected, it is important to seek referral to a neurologist to confirm a diagnosis, because symptom management is vital to maintaining function, coordination and balance over time."
To help those diagnosed with the disease, MidMichigan Medical Center-Gladwin offers a monthly Parkinson’s Disease Support Group. Meetings are held the second Thursday of each month at 5 p.m. in the conference room of MidMichigan Gladwin Pines. The group provides education, support and fellowship to those affected by this disease. Speakers discuss how to cope and encourage developing positive attitudes to combat the effects of Parkinson’s disease.
Registration is not required for the support group. Those interested in more information may call the Education Department at MidMichigan Medical Center-Gladwin at (989) 246-6291.