By Bev Jordan
Antonino is 69 and has had Parkinsons disease for two years, he also suffered a stroke several years before and is being cared for by wife Maria.
At the moment, he is at The Hills Private Hospital undergoing a rehabilitation program and is doing daily exercises to improve his mobility so that he can walk again.
Maria said caring for her husband has been very challenging because of his stroke and said that the care at The Hills Private was amazing, all she wanted was “for him to be able to walk again, just a few steps, and they have done that here”.
Nurse Unit Manager Liz Davidson says the hospital helps a lot of patients with Parkinson’s, a neurodegenerative brain disorder that progresses slowly in most people.
It is estimated that 1 in 350 Australians now have the condition, and more than 35 people are diagnosed daily.
Mrs Davidson said that people manage the condition well at home but often came to rehabilitation when they were experiencing reduced mobility, and decreased function with speech and swallowing.
“Through Physiotherapy and occupational therapy, we get people to their best functioning capacity. There are assessments, a lot of guidance and occupational therapy will do home visits to assess what is needed. Parkinson medication can be quite complicated and we do a lot of education about the medications and how to manage them at home.”
She said The Hills Private used a multidisciplinary approach with a weekly team meeting with family attended by doctors, nurses occupational therapy, physiotherapy and speech therapists to discuss the patient’s rehabilitation.
She said many people with private health insurance who were struggling at home caring for a loved one who was having mobility issues did not realise that they could access rehabilitation services. The hospital also offers carers training.
“Patients don’t have to be in a hospital to be referred for rehabilitation here. They can get a referral from their GP. If carers feel they need help they should go to their GP. I am amazed by how much functional mobility we get back for people to enhance their quality of life,” she said.
World Parkinson’s Day is April 11. To find out more about Parkinson’s disease call 1800 644 189 or visit the website parkinsonsnsw.org.au