The advances in treatment have given a much improved quality of life to people suffering from the commonest movement disorder, Parkinson's disease (PD), which afflicts roughly one lakh people in India.
The disease usually affects people above 50 years of age, but can sometimes affect younger adults too. Common symptoms in PD sufferers are tremors, involuntary muscle movements due to lack of brain-muscle coordination and difficulty in walking. The symptoms tend to increase with time that it gets near impossible for a person to perform daily chores by himself.
Meena Manbilwar (70), a resident of Vasant Kunj, who was diagnosed with PD in 1995, had locked herself in her house for more than 10 years fearing to break into a sudden bout of involuntary shaking, dyskinesia.
"Fortunately, I retired from job the same year she was diagnosed with PD. Someone has to be always there with a person suffering from a disease like this. With our kids settled abroad, it would have been very difficult to manage her had I been working," said her husband, KP Manbilwar (74), retired chief engineer, Indian Oil Corporation.
Genetic and environmental factors are believed to contribute to degeneration of brain cells that maintain body movements. There is no particular test to detect the disease, with only physical symptoms helping doctors in making diagnosis.
Manbilwar underwent deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgery three years ago, and has not experienced a single episode of shaking since then. A pacemaker-like implant is fitted inside the brain through a surgery to control electrical impulses that result in movement disorder.
"The surgery almost rids a person of PD symptoms. The new medicines also control the symptoms enough to lead a near-normal life, provided they are taken regularly," said Dr Sumit Singh, neurologist, institute of neurosciences, Medanta- The Medicity.
On World Parkinson's Day on Monday, the hospital launched a helpline: 0124-4855055, and a support group, Swavlamban, to educate people suffering from PD and their families regarding symptoms, diagnosis and treatment options.
"In smaller cities, it's more difficult to get information about the disease. Societal rejection is the biggest problem and a support group will be helpful," said Geeta Sud, a designer based out of Amritsar, whose husband was diagnosed with PD last year.
The DBS surgery costs Rs7.5 lakh at the hospital and the medicines can cost up to Rs8,000 a month.