PDMDS, under the leadership of Dr Maria Barretto, has devised an innovative approach in the treatment of Parkinson’s and is working towards improving the overall quality of life of its patients
The Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorder Society (PDMDS) was started by Dr BS Singhal in 2001 to improve the quality of life of people with Parkinson’s and their families. According to Dr Singhal, “In Parkinson’s disease, drugs can help but not to the full extent. Bringing people together in a support group with rehabilitation might give them a boost and way to live with the disability with the feeling that ‘I have Parkinson’s but Parkinson’s will not have me’!”
In Mumbai, Dr Singhal entrusted the work of PDMDS to Dr Maria Barretto as its chief executive officer. She has over 30 years of experience in the field of psychology and education and has been instrumental in taking a multi-disciplinary approach to Parkinson’s care in a group therapy format.
The focus of PDMDS’s work is providing treatment through support centres. This programme is conducted weekly at various locations. PDMDS currently conducts 15 support centres in Mumbai and Thane districts, one in Pune, two in Nashik, three in Goa, three in Gujarat and one in Hyderabad. As the disease progresses, members are unable to attend the programme. At that stage, PDMDS provides counselling and therapy at their homes. There are many who cannot afford the therapy. To reach out to them, PDMDS provides free medication and assistive devices.
Dr Barretto has been the face of PDMDS, since her association with the organisation began in 2004. Moneylife Foundation honoured her on International Women’s Day (8 March 2015) for her outstanding contribution in the area of her specialisation. She was felicitated at the hands of Ms Nirmala Sitharaman, Union minister for commerce & industry.
Parkinson’s is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system. The most obvious symptoms are movement-related and include involuntary tremors, shaking of limbs, rigidity, slowness of movement and difficulty with walking and gait. Later, cognitive and behavioural problems may arise; dementia commonly occurs at advanced stages of the disease, whereas depression is the most common psychiatric symptom.
For those who fear that there is no treatment, the words of a patient may be comforting: “A handful of tablets are prescribed to control the symptoms.” The combination of medical treatment and group therapy works to: (a) improve and maintain flexibility, strength, coordination, balance and mobility; (b) bring independence in carrying out activities of daily living; and (c) help voice control and communication.
Through the patient welfare programme, financial assistance is provided for medication and assistive devices such as canes, walkers or wheelchairs, based on the assessment and recommendation of the physiotherapist.
Dr Barretto says, “In the past 10 years of my career, I have been involved in developing and managing the Parkinson’s Society and I have gained much more than I have given. I have been blessed with a career that gives me the opportunity to be a part of the lives of people who have been challenged in different ways.” You too can join her effort and volunteer to work with PDMDS.
PDMDS is registered under the Bombay Public Trust Act of 1950, the Society Registration Act of 1860 and under the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act for receipt of foreign donations. Monetary donations are tax-exempt under Section 80G of the Income-Tax Act.
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