Parkinson’s disease strikes 300 thousand people in Italy and indirectly affects a far greater number if we consider family members and caregivers. The National Day of Parkinson’s disease is dedicated to all of them and it is held on the 28th of November. It is an initiative of the Academy Limpe-Dismov. “Pro muovi amo la ricerca,” reads the slogan: it is necessary to concentrate the efforts of all to help the scientific community to find out more about this neurodegenerative disease.
Throughout the country, doctors in clinical facilities will be on hand to provide all relevant information on Parkinson’s disease. Humanitas hospital is among these facilities: open on 28th November, for patients, family members and caregivers from 9am to 13pm. The specialists will answer their questions and explain protocols, care activities and research.
In Room B of the auditorium desks customized with posters showing the different specialists that the patient may encounter will be set up: physiatrist, internist, neurologist, neuroradiologist, and neurosurgeon.
Many diagnoses of Parkinson’s disease achieved at an early age thanks to family doctors
In the collective imagination Parkinson’s disease is immediately associated with old age, but this is a matter to be reconsidered. Although Parkinson’s disease particularly affects people between the age of 59 and 62, the disease may develop in people of a younger age.
reconsidered. Although Parkinson’s affects in particular between 59 and 62 years, the disease may begin in less advanced age. As emphasized by Limpe Dismov, the age of onset is decreasing: 1 in 4 patients is less than 50 years old and 1 in 10 patients is less than 40 years old.
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“There are several cases of Parkinson’s diagnosed early in life because family doctors are more attentive and sensitive to the symptoms that can lead to a suspicion of Parkinson’s in a young subject. The medicine is able to make a diagnosis when the disease is at the very onset,” – explains Professor Alberto Albanian, head of Neurology at Humanitas.
But what are the early warning signs that can make one suspect the onset of Parkinson’s disease?
“In all neurodegenerative diseases, there are some early signs such as the reduction of the sense of smell that has no other possible explanations, or the loss of physiological inhibition of movements during sleep. When we sleep, in fact, we are of course “forced” not to move, even if we dream very active and dynamic dreams. However, years before the onset of symptoms typical of Parkinson’s disease, some patients may begin to experience these movements in sleep: flapping and kicking, for example, while they dream.”
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Among the possible early signs is also the restless legs syndrome
Another alarm bell regarding sleep: “It is the restless legs syndrome: one may feel the tingling that we try to hold off with an active movement of the legs, making it difficult to fall asleep. If one experiences these signs they can identify those at risk before the onset of the typical symptoms of Parkinson’s disease like tremors and slowness of movement.”
In recent years research has been devoted to areas such as the therapies of Parkinson’s disease and prevention, including the possible development of a vaccine. “The vaccine involved in the research – specifies the professor – is a concentration of antibodies that can affect the proteins that accumulate in neurons, a hallmark of neurodegenerative diseases.”
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Finally, Parkinson’s disease treatments: treatment of symptoms of Parkinson’s disease includes different therapies such as preventive treatments for people who are at risk or predisposed to Parkinson’s disease and healing treatments that indicate that the research is achieving a slight degree of success. A treatment example is the so-called “neuroprotection”: several studies are testing drugs that modify the progress of the disease,” – concludes Professor Albanian.