Campaign to raise awareness of Parkinson’s Disease

This week is national Parkinson’s Awareness Week and local disc jockey Trevor Mills, from Mulbarton, is among those taking part in a campaign at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital to bring attention to the disease

Mr Mills, 47, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s ten years ago and says many people wrongly assume it’s an old man’s complaint when young people can suffer too. “Many people assume the symptoms are the effects of drink or drugs – it’s very frustrating that so little is known about this disease,” he commented. “When people like the actor Michael J Fox are sufferers, we need to ditch the stereotypes and give Parkinson’s a higher profile.”

Last month NNUH neurology consultant Dr Paul Worth, who is president of the Norwich branch of the Parkinson’s Disease Society, presented evidence to an All Party Parliamentary Group, chaired by Baroness Gale at the House of Lords, calling for better and more equitable provision for Parkinson’s patients.

“Access to services for people with Parkinson’s tends to be patchy and there is evidence that those living in rural parts of areas such as Norfolk and Suffolk are more likely to be missing out,” said Dr Worth.

Meanwhile, a medicines management team at NNUH, led by Yung Strawbridge, the hospital’s principal pharmacist for medicines management, with support from Dr Worth and made up of specialist neurology nurses, ward sisters and pharmacists, is keen to raise awareness of the disease among hospital staff and patients.

Parkinson’s is a progressive, fluctuating condition that affects one in 500 people and leads to a debilitating loss of muscle control. Everyday actions such as walking, swallowing and even speech can be badly affected.

“People with Parkinson’s rely on the regular administration of medication to control their symptoms so it is vitally important that they continue to receive their medication on time throughout their hospital stay,” says.Yung.

“Missing out on Parkinson’s drugs can lead to loss of mobility and stiffness which is distressing and uncomfortable for patients. Sudden withdrawal of medication can have very serious, even life-threatening consequences.

Medication must be given to PD patients at the times they need it, not just when there is a drug round. We are working towards giving patients in hospital control over their own PD drugs where possible. We would like all staff and patients to be aware of this issue and to talk to the ward pharmacist if they need any advice.”

Information packs for ward staff at NNUH have been provided by the Parkinson’s Society, along with timers to remind nurses when patients need their medication.

TV presenter Jeremy Paxman and actress Jane Asher have both pledged to donate their brains after death for research into Parkinson’s disease, in response to a national campaign by the Parkinson's charity.

Tuesday 21st of April 2009 11:00:31 AM