Parkinson’s is a serious neurogenerative disease that affects the way body parts move. The disease occurs due to problems with certain nerve cells in the brain. These nerve cells are usually producing the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is important for the transmission of the information of how muscles should react and therefore how parts of the body should move.
“It is still unknown what exactly causes Parkinson’s disease and no cure has been found. The last decade has seen a significant increase in research into the therapeutic effect dance has on people with Parkinson’s disease. On the basis of evidence provided by healthcare practitioners, dance scholars, neurologists and psychotherapists, it is now widely recognized that creative and expressive movement has a beneficial effect on people with Parkinson’s disease and their caregivers. And that is exactly what Step Up for Parkinson’s does. We provide free specialised movement classes for people with Parkinson’s disease as well as their caregiver, which is often their spouse or another family member,” states Natalie Muschamp, Chairperson of Step up for Parkinson’s.
How does dance help people who have Parkinson’s?
“In Malta some 1,400 people suffer from Parkinson’s Disease. These classes are really effective and I have seen how they have helped our residents. They offer them support, interaction with others, as well as freedom of expression through movement. I am very proud to be hosting these regular classes at Hilltop Gardens and organising an event to raise awareness about Parkinson’s disease” Charmaine Attard, Director of AX Care commented.
“Our organisation’s secondary aim is to raise awareness about the disease,” Natalie continued, “Parkinson’s disease is the second largest neurodegenerative disease in the world after Alzheimer’s. Often Parkinson’s is seen as an elderly disease, however, there are currently more and more people diagnosed with this disease before they are in their 30’s. Parkinson’s is relatively unknown to many and therefore people diagnosed with the diseases also suffer from stigma about the disease itself. Since it is so unknown, not many would know how to behave around a person that has tremors or suffers from uncontrolled movement.
“People with Parkinson’s disease are the same person they were before they were diagnosed, their identity has not changed, they think the same and love the same as they did before, maybe even more so now! Step UP for Parkinson’s aims to raise more awareness and to help break this stigma, and to encourage everyone to accept who they are, and also not to feel ashamed or become isolated.”
The AX Steps up For Parkinson’s event will take place on the 10th April starting from 6.00 pm at Hilltop Gardens in Naxxar. The event, which takes place on the eve of World Parkinson’s Day on the 11th April, will include a talk about the disease and the stigma that surrounds it and a regular class open to all those suffering from Parkinson’s and those wanting to raise awareness about the disease, as well as a Step up For Parkinson’s class.