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Bringing awareness to Parkinson's disease

It's estimated every six minutes, someone in the United States is diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — Len Valenti of Pittston was 52 years old when he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2015.

"It quickly changed my life. I had bad gait problems and a lot of imbalances," said Valenti.

Valenti noticed his right leg would drag when he walked. He now goes to Allied Services in Wilkes-Barre for physical therapy to work on his mobility.

"We use the metronome, that clicking sound, and I try to move to the beat of that, and that actually slows me down. I am a very fast person; I do everything fast, so my biggest hardship is trying to keep calm, relax, and slow down," said Valenti.

Kristina Dorkoski is a neurologic physical therapist with Allied Services. She tells Newswatch 16 that Parkinson's disease is very common, but the severity of symptoms can vary from person to person.

"A clinical diagnosis is made when patients show two of the four symptoms: Tremors, rigidity, akinesia—which is slowness in movement—and postural instability, which is difficulty with balance," explained Dorkoski.

April is Parkinson's Awareness Month.

While it is a progressive neurological disease, Dorkoski explains medications and movement can help improve quality of life.

"The stigma of that is a lot of the reason why people don't seek out help if they start to see they are having some of the symptoms. So, there is help for Parkinson's. The sooner people seek out physical therapy, the better," said Dorkoski.

Len is proof of that. He urges other patients to talk to their doctor if they have concerns.

"Basically, I don't want people to be afraid if they have some of the symptoms, especially men. Men mostly think I'll put that off and get checked out later."

 See more Healthwatch 16 stories on YouTube.  

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