YNET - Health News 26-04-2021

At the age of 27, Chen became ill with Parkinson's: "I was shocked, they told me it must be a mistake"

Shortly after the birth of her daughter, Chen Ovadia began to hear from people that she was dragging her left leg. Later she herself felt that "something in my body had changed". After she was diagnosed with Parkinson's, her whole life changed. On the occasion of the disease awareness month, she says: "Whoever begins to suffer from tremors in the hands - should go get tested. It must not be neglected. Parkinson's can appear at any age."

At first she didn't even notice that anything had changed in her. She thought that maybe it was a result of the birth that had happened a short time before, and that it would surely pass soon. "But people started telling me that I was dragging my left leg, and I also started to notice it," says Chen Ovadia (29), mother of a daughter, a resident of the Moshav Jordana in the north. "At a certain point I realized that something was not going right with me, something in my body had changed, there was something wrong."

But she had no idea it was Parkinson's. Even when the doctor at the hospital mentioned this word in her ear after extensive tests she underwent, she did not understand what it had to do with it. "What about me and Parkinson's?" Ovadia reproduces her feeling. "I was 27 years old and I knew that Parkinson's was an old people's disease, so how does it relate to me?"

The neurologist suspected she had Parkinson's and sent her for tests. When the results reached Dr. Meir Kestenbaum, deputy director of the neurology department and director of the clinic for movement disorders at the Meir Hospital in Kfar Saba, there was no room for doubt.

But Dr. Kestenbaum knew that it made a lot of sense. According to him, 7% - about 2,000 people - of the 30 Israelis suffering from Parkinson's disease, for which the month of increasing awareness ends this week, are under 40 years old. "The young group of patients," he says Dr. Kestenbaum, "It has unique characteristics that differ from those of most older patients, both in terms of the clinical course of the disease and the response to medications, and in terms of the emotional, social and occupational impact on the patients.

"In terms of movement symptoms, tremors are the most common symptom among all Parkinson's patients regardless of age, however in the group of young patients there is a higher incidence of muscle stiffness and their involuntary contraction as well as involuntary movements."

Eyal Levy, CEO of the Israel Parkinson Association, understands the plight of the young patients very well. "In order to respond to the young Parkinson's contenders, the association established a unique branch for them," he says. "The branch provides professional support and diverse activities, such as support groups, providing information Extensive information on the disease, lectures, social gatherings, trips and more. All of these help young people and their families accept the new state of the disease and manage it in a better way, which will allow them to maintain an optimal lifestyle alongside the challenges of the disease."

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