Parkinson’s, until now considered a disease of the old, is now affecting youngsters too.
Called the Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease (YOPD), it strikes people below the age of 40 and even 20-year-olds, said Dr Satish Chandra, Director, NIMHANS.
Dr GM Wali, a neurologist from North Karnataka, agrees that Parkinson’s is growing among youngsters, especially in India. “If in the West, the prevalence rate is 10-12 per cent, then in India the number could be up to 20 per cent,” he said.
The reasons, experts say, are varied. “Apart from genetic factors, infections, toxic materials like manganese and soil and water pollutants catalyse YOPD,” Dr Chandra said.
Others hold the practice of consanguineous marriages in India as a factor triggering the disease.
“While the urban population may be at a higher risk due to exposure to various smokes, chemicals and foods, low awareness and non-availability of medical facilities make the rural population vulnerable,” Dr Wali said.
Parkinson’s is a neuro-degenerative disease usually affecting people above 50. Symptoms include tremors, muscle rigidity and trouble with balance. The disease, as it progresses, also impairs speech and slows down thought processes.
Younger patients have slightly different symptoms. “There is a different manifestation of rigidity and slowness in these patients. These symptoms are more frequent than tremors,” Dr Chandra said.
Now, doctors are pressing for more awareness campaigns about the disease and also for support groups to be set up to help patients.
world Parkinson’s Day today
Basal Ganglia Society, with support from BGS Global Hospital, will organise a talk on recent research on controlling Parkinson’s, new treatments, and provide information to patients, their families and caregivers, on Friday as part of World Parkinson’s Day.