Parkinson’s disease is one of the most uncommon neurological diseases affecting many people all over the world. In Africa there is a lack of awareness of the disease, this has led to a lot of myths coming up about patients and the disease itself. We seek to demystify some of the common myths:-
1. Myth: Parkinson’s disease is a result of witchcraft and is infectious
- Fact: There is no known cause of Parkinson’s disease. The disease is not infectious and cannot be passed on through contact with a patient.
2. Myth: All individuals with tremors have Parkinson’s disease
- Fact: Not all tremors are caused by Parkinson’s disease. Tremor is generally caused by problems in parts of the brain that control muscles throughout the body or in particular areas, such as the hands. Tremors can be caused by other conditions too including; other neurological disorders and also use of some drugs.
3. Myth: Parkinson’s disease is curable.
- Fact: There is currently no cure for Parkinson’s disease, partly because the cause is yet to be understood. Research is still underway for the cure.
4. Myth: All individuals with Parkinson’s disease have tremors
- Fact: While tremor is the most recognized symptom of Parkinson’s disease, many Parkinson’s patients do not have tremors but have rigidity and slow movements. Thirty per cent of patients do not have tremors at the onset of the disease. Tremors can be caused by many other conditions.
5. Myth: Medication is the only treatment for Parkinson’s disease.
- Fact: Medications prescribed control symptoms, mostly by increasing the levels of dopamine in the brain. Surgery may be an option for some patients with Parkinson’s disease. Deep brain stimulation involves placing electrical stimulators in specific areas of the brain that control movement. Another type of surgery destroys brain issues that cause Parkinson’s symptoms. These surgeries do not cure Parkinson’s but may help ease symptoms.
In order to provide the best care for the patients, it is good to differentiate between myths and facts. Remember knowledge is power