By Kaitlyn Rigdon
Over 1 million Americans have Parkinson’s disease, with someone being diagnosed every nine minutes.
Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects predominately dopamine-producing neurons in a specific area of the brain called substantial nigra, according to the Parkinson’s website.
Kristin Trulock, national coordinator for the Parkinson’s Foundation, spoke at the El Dorado Parkinson’s support group Feb. 15.
Trulock said in the past, Arkansas hasn’t been on the foundation’s radar. “I just happen to live in Arkansas and I said, are you kidding me? We need this here in Arkansas to spread the awareness,” she said. “We need to bring the funds here to our communities and be able to support all of our Parkinson’s patients. “
El Dorado Mayor Frank Hash attended the meeting and proclaimed April as Parkinson’s disease awareness month in El Dorado.
The average onset age is 60, but it can happen at any age. There is currently no cure for Parkinson’s, but there are treatments available to improve quality of life, Trulock said.
Trulock announced a Parkinson’s Moving Day walk that will be held in Little Rock at War Memorial Stadium on April 21.
There will be a total of 39 walks all over the nation in 2018. Moving Day allows the foundation to further its professional training programs. Over the last 10 years, nearly 2,000 health professionals have been trained through Allied Team Training for Parkinson’s (ATTP).
The Parkinson’s Foundation’s mission is to make life better for people with Parkinson’s disease by improving care and advancing research toward a cure.
“We feel the urgency of our mission because there are 60,000 new cases every year,” Trulock said. “It’s the second most common neurodegenerative disease, behind Alzheimer’s.”
Registration for the walk begins at 9 a.m. and the walk begins at 10 a.m. Trulock said they have thought of everything from having golf carts bringing people to and from the stadium and having different information tents set up.
If a Parkinson’s patient is unable to walk, there will be alternative exercises available including: chair exercises, rock steady boxing, Tai Chi, yoga, Lee Silverman Voice Technique (LSVT) and more.
“There are so many people living out there with Parkinson’s that aren’t getting out of bed to do things like this and don’t know that they’re not alone in this fight,” Trulock said. “There are others that would like to work with them.”
Every Parkinson’s patient is different and that’s what makes the treatment so hard, Trulock said.
The foundation funds different research initiatives that are dedicated to finding the causes and a cure for Parkinson’s.
One research program is called the Centers of Excellence, which Trulock discussed. There are currently 42 centers and they are considered movement disorder clinics. The closest one to Arkansas is in Nashville.
There is also the Parkinson’s Outcomes Project, which is a study of patients with Parkinson’s through the Centers of Excellence. There are currently 10,000 patients in this research initiative.
One purpose it is so crucial getting Parkinson’s disease awareness out to the public is because may nurses and doctors do not realize how critical it is that a patient gets their medicine on time.
“We will do educational seminars that include nurses to educate our people that take care of our Parkinson’s patients,” Trulock said. “With all of us working together, think about what we can do for our patients here in Arkansas. It takes all of us together.”
El Dorado has a support group that meets every third Thursday at 2 p.m. at Simmons Bank. The group currently has a team signed up for the Moving Day walk in Little Rock.
Barbara Hogg has had Parkinson’s for 26 years and is a member of the El Dorado support group. “We come together and we talk about our problems and we’re a very positive group,” Hogg said.
Hogg is a published author, who has written the book “God, Golf and Parkinson’s.”
The support group is sponsored by Area Agency on Again and South Arkansas Center on Aging.
Kaitlyn Rigdon can be reached at 870-862-6611 or firstname.lastname@example.org.