Saskatoon-based researcher sees growth in Parkinson’s treatment

Watch above: a respected voice on Parkinson’s disease says newly diagnosed patients are benefiting from treatment advancements

SASKATOON – A University of Saskatchewan researcher says that a lot has changed about Parkinson’s disease over the decades.

“In the 1950’s and 60’s, patients were diagnosed with Parkinson’s, they lived less than ten years after their [diagnosis],” said Dr. Ali Rajput, who’s been studying the disease for over 40 years.

“People are now living close to a normal life span; maybe a couple years shorter,” said Rajput.

Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative, movement disorder. Rajput said there are five stages to the disease; patients can experience symptoms that range from only affecting one side of the body, to being bedridden or wheelchair bound.

The advancements in treatment of Parkinson’s are good news for Elaine Gilbert, a newly diagnosed patient who learned the news on April Fool’s Day.

“I said you’re kidding, you’re joking right, its April fools,” said Gilbert, a retired elementary school teacher.

Story continues below advertisement

Elaine joins her husband, Malcolm, who has been battling the disease for around 15 years. Her Parkinson’s is in its preliminary stages, which will allow doctors to properly formulate a plan of action.

“If you treat [Parkinson’s] too late, the life expectancy shortens; if you treat it too early you produce more complications for treatment,” said Rajput, who said he’s only seen a handful of couples that were both diagnosed with the disease.

Now that Elaine has the disease, she will be able to draw on the experiences of people like Rajput, as well as her husband.

Asked if he had any advice for his wife, Malcom said acceptance is one of the most important actions to take after receiving a diagnosis.

“I don’t think you can change it, you can slow it down maybe,” he said.

“I just feel, if I can maintain what I have now and maybe there are a few more inconveniences that might filter through, but for the most part I am just not going to believe it,” said Elaine.

“I almost still don’t believe it.”