Health Issues: Dealing with Parkinson’s Disease
Some 1.5 million Americans are affected by Parkinson’s -- a chronic, progressive, neurological disease that results from the loss of cells that produce the chemical messenger dopamine that is responsible for transmitting signals within the brain. Loss of dopamine causes critical nerve cells in the brain to fire out of control, leaving the person unable to control his movements in a regular manner.
Symptoms of Parkinson’s include trembling, stiffness of the limbs and trunk, slowness of movement, and impaired balance and coordination. At first, symptoms can be subtle and occur gradually. As they become more pronounced, the sufferer may have difficulty walking, talking, or completing tasks. While there is no cure, medication may mask some symptoms.
Many people with this motor system disorder retire or go on disability, but about a third of them remain active in the workforce. Those that do face the decision of whether or not to inform others of the diagnosis. Sufferers may remain silent because they wish to avoid pity or questions about performance ability. Trying to hide the condition, however, can be stressful.
A variety of adjustments may make office life easier. For instance, mobility issues may be aided by a scooter, a reserved parking space, or a cubicle closer to the washroom. Key guards, armrests, or speech recognition software may enhance computer use. Equipment such as a stool to rest on by the copier or a cart to transport material to a meeting may reduce fatigue and exertion. Remember, too, that focusing on what you can do rather than what you can’t goes a long way toward maintaining confidence.