Parkinson’s disease at 32
April is Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month. According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, 1 million Americans are living with Parkinson’s, and only two to 10 percent are under the age of 50.
When you’re in your early thirties, you have your whole life ahead of you. Your biggest worries should be taking care of your family, working on your next promotion and all the fun changes that come along with “growing up”. You are in the prime of your life, but sometimes, things don’t go according to plan.
At first, Brandon’s thumb started to shake, and he and his family joked about what it could be, thinking it couldn’t be something serious. Then, he started having stiffness in his joints and knew something was wrong.
After taking a multitude of movement tests to observe his motor functions and meeting with numerous doctors, Brandon was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s disease in February 2017 at the young age of 32.
“Parkinson’s disease is a progressive central nervous system disease that affects the body’s movement,” says Dr. Sachin Kapur, Brandon’s movement disorder specialist at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill. “It may cause tremors, slowness of movement, imbalance and difficulty with fine motor movement.”
“Who would have really thought at my age, I could have early onset Parkinson’s?” says Brandon. “I didn’t think so. I don’t even have a family history of it.”
Luckily, not a lot has changed for Brandon.
“I’m still able to enjoy life with a few lifestyle changes,” he says. “I have some arm pains and shakes, but my medicine does a good job at alleviating the rigidness. The only thing that becomes annoying for me is when I get the shakes at the gym. A part of living life with Parkinson’s disease is choosing to make healthy decisions like going to the gym, eating right and doing physical therapy. It’s important to be as proactive as possible in my care.”
Dr. Kapur also adds that it is very important for people with Parkinson’s to exercise and eat well.
“Exercise is the only treatment that has been proven to delay the progression of the disease,” says Dr. Kapur. “I recommend at least two-and-a half hours of exercise a week combining cardio and weight lifting.
Thanks to his healthy lifestyle choices, Brandon can live his life pretty normally right now. He just got married and bought a new house.
About the Author
Marrison Worthington, health enews contributor, is a public affairs and marketing manager at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Illinois. She is a graduate of Illinois State University and has several years of global corporate communications experience under her belt. Marrison loves spending her free time traveling, reading organizational development blogs, trying new cooking recipes, and playing with her golden retriever, Ari.