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Young battle with the truth of Parkinson’s

Many young patients suffering from the degenerative effects of Parkinson's disease shop around for doctors after being diagnosed before they finally accept the truth, a doctor said.

"They are in denial so many shop for doctors," neurologist Lo Man-wai said, adding that about 10 percent of 14,000 patients with Parkinson's are 40 years old or younger.

Lo said the youngest patient he has seen was a teacher, who, at 32, showed obvious symptoms of slowness in movement. The man quit teaching to work in an environment where he did not have to face people.

A 57-year-old patient, surnamed Luk, said she sought advice from four doctors who all diagnosed her with Parkinson's.

At first she did not tell her colleagues but when she told her supervisor, she was criticized for using the disease as an excuse for her poor performance, she said.

"My company even cheated me. They asked for my medical report, saying it would help me to make insurance claims. But I was later asked to leave the hotel where I had worked for almost 35 years," Luk said.

Lo admitted that though medicine cannot stop the disease from progressing, it usually slows the deterioration in younger patients. "The disease directly affects their income, marriage, sexual life, self-esteem and emotion. But early treatment can improve their quality of life," Lo said.

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