REVEALED: 78% of elderly Nigerians at risk of Parkinson’s disease – Expert

A physiotherapist, Prof. Matthew Olaogun, has said that at least 78 per cent of Nigerians of 60 years and above are at the mercy of Parkinson’s disease.

Olaogun said this on Tuesday at the 7th Scientific Conference and Annual General Meeting of the Association of Clinical and Academic Physiotherapists of Nigeria (ACAPN) at the University of Medical Sciences (UNIMED), Ondo.

He said that there was need for those showing symptoms of the disease to quickly consult health personnel for the disease to be handled early.

Olaogun, who was the keynote speaker at the conference, said that the disease could be genetic and age-related.

“Most people have it when they are above 60 years.

“A good percentage of Nigerians that are above 60 years are at the mercy of the disease.

“The cause can be genetic but what caused it in their ancestor is yet to be known.

“And contamination of water through blacksmithing or mining can cause it.

“It is important for people to identify it and report to medical personnel.

“Some people will lock the patients inside the house instead of reporting it.

“The symptoms, include shaking of hands, inability to use hand properly.

“Don’t keep them indoor or at prayer centres.

“When walking seems difficult, report them.

“It has no cure but can be tackled early so that the conditions will not get worse,” Olaogun said.

He said that Nigerians should report any abnormalities in the movement of their bodies to a physiotherapist.

In a speech, the National President of ACAPN, Dr Chris Okafor, said that the conference was to discuss innovations in research on physiotherapy medical rehabilitation.

Okafor said that the theme of the conference is “Recent advancements in movement disorders”.

He said that some people attribute Parkinson disease to a lot of myths, spiritual attack and stroke.

“Parkinson disease is not stroke nor spiritual attack.

“So, we are here to talk more about it and create more awareness so that people will know more about it.

“Apart from professionals from physiotherapy, we have allied medical fields and students as well.

“Parkinson and stroke are both neurological conditions,” Okafor said.

According to him, the two conditions affect the brain and things around neurological system but they are not the same.

“Because of one problem in the brain, one may have stroke,” he said.

He further said that although both conditions are age related, they do not affect children except in few cases.

“It is higher in those people with higher age, from 60.

“So the older a person is, the likely he can have stroke or Parkinson disease.

“Parkinson presents weakness of muscles – the person does not walk properly,” Okafor said.

He charged Nigerians to take their health as a priority, adding that there was need for regular physical exercise.

“Slumping is stress related. There is stress in the country.

“Many people are thinking about different things, while some are not eating well.

“People should take care of themselves, eat good food and see physiotherapist and, more importantly, engage in physical activity.

According to him, we do not need money to do that but contact your physiotherapy to know which particular exercise you can do.

“Exercise is key because the cause is not particularly known.

“So, in management of Parkinson disease, neurologist and physiotherapist are very important,” Okafor said.

Also in a remark, the Vice Chancellor of UNIMED, Prof. Adesegun Fatusi, said that he was glad to host the conference, considering that the association constituted an integral part of health workforce.

Fatusi said that there was a possibility to get the Parkinson disease as one gets older.

He further said that medical students are expected to know more about the disease as the country has aging population.

He said that the current medical personnel should know the latest about the disease and “as a country we should know what to do to address it”.

Gov. Rotimi Akeredolu, represented by his Special Adviser on Health Matters, Prof. Dayo Faduyile, said the State Government had introduced physiotherapy medical rehabilitation to its contributory health insurance scheme.

He said that the elderly could benefit a lot from the scheme.

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