"Meeting old friend in unexpected places"

Name: Dr. Louis Tan
Home: Singapore
Date of Visit: May/04
Singapore Parkinson's Disease Society

Dr. Tan and friends
Dr. Tan and Friends, 2004

There are more than 3,000 people with Parkinson's Disease in the island country/city of Singapore. On May 26, 2004, the Singapore Parkinson's Disease Society (SPDS) welcomed Drive Around the World team members into their home located in the National Neuroscience Institute. This visit rewarded team members and guests with a glimpse into the life of the Parkinson's Community here.

Dr. Louis Tan (a colleague of Dr. William Langston at the Parkinson's Institute) greeted us as we walked through the door. He was quite surprised when he heard that the Parkinson's Institute was our beneficiary. We smiled as we suddenly realized that we had a number of friends in common. It was great to see first hand that the Parkinson's Institute had touched people around the world. A collection of people from SPDS was present, including three patients, two nurses, two neurologists, and one social worker.

A brief presentation gave us a feel for their work here. Although their focus is mostly clinical treatment, groups have been set up in order to bring the community together. Growth groups (closed groups), and support groups bring Parkinson's patients into direct contact. Outings are planned, group physical therapy sessions are coordinated, and events for Parkinson's caregivers are organized. A community approach is important for dealing with this disease. Dr. Tan comments, "We all need to help each other; doctors can learn from patients, and patients can learn from the Doctors."

Despite the high cost of medicine and treatment in Singapore, one of the biggest obstacles for the community here, the society seemed upbeat. Dr. Tan also pointed out that another benefit the Singaporeans have is their close family relationships. Most often, patients are cared for directly by their families, circumventing the high cost of assisted care.

We were all inspired by this group of Parkinson's Disease warriors in Singapore. Although it is terrible to see that this disease knows no boundaries, it is great to see the communities it builds. With the help and fortitude of these communities, a cure is sure to be found.