Author Archive

KARE 11’s Dave Schwartz and Hammer Made Team Up to Beat Parkinson’s

During every week-end evening broadcast in April, KARE 11’s Dave Schwartz and Hammer Made will be teaming up to beat Parkinson’s. Tune in to KARE 11 to check out the tie Dave is wearing. All ties will be on auction and available for purchase through Ebay. All proceeds will go to help the 20,000 people and families living with Parkinson’s in Minnesota.

Dave honors his grandmother, Sylvia, with this effort. His grandmother lived for many years with Parkinson’s.

Parkinson’s is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system characterized by tremor and impaired muscular coordination.

The National Parkinson Foundation Minnesota raises awareness of Parkinson’s disease by providing resources and information, inspiring others to show their support, raising donations to fund research and Parkinson-friendly events, and advocating for those who are struggling with the illness.

Bid on the gorgeous ties here.

“The Art of Parkinson’s” Raises Awareness and Dollars!

artparkinsonsgroupOn Friday, March 15, shoppers had many opportunities waiting for them in the western courtyard of the Galleria in Edina. They could view some lovely artwork, learn more about Parkinson’s disease (PD), enjoy yummy treats from CRAVE!, support a great cause [NPFM], see Parkinson’s-friendly clothing (much of it modeled by people with PD), and perhaps even buy some of the beautiful pieces of art created by people living with Parkinson’s. All of these opportunities could be found in one place: the “The Art of Parkinson’s.”

This event was the first of its kind in Minnesota, as far as we know. It was definitely a first for the National Parkinson Foundation Minnesota, so we really weren’t sure what to expect. We had several artists who donated their watercolor and oil paintings, photographs, fused glass or jewelry to be sold. Most of the artists are pictured below.  We had a great space, wonderful support from the stores and staff of the Galleria and a terrific stylist who outfitted the models and set up the sale.

What we found was that many Galleria customers enjoyed looking at art and then taking it home with them! Several knew someone with PD but didn’t necessarily know much about the disease. Everyone left knowing more about Parkinson’s than they did before, a lot of artwork was sold, and NPFM brought in additional funds to help the Parkinson’s community here in Minnesota and surrounding areas.

We are considering making this an annual event!  If you agree and are an artist with living with Parkinson’s disease who would like to contribute art, please let us know at

Check out our latest video

We’re excited to present our latest video dedicated to the people and families living with Parkinson’s we serve and our important partners who are making a difference in their lives.  Focused on The National Parkinson Foundation of Minnesota’s efforts to improve the lives of those with Parkinson’s disease it offers an up-close look at our important goals and initiatives aimed at changing the lives of Parkinson patients in Minnesota. Through funding outreach, education, support, and respite care the National Parkinson Foundation of Minnesota is helping to make each day a little bit better and a little bit brighter for people living with Parkinson’s. See how we’re doing whatever it takes to beat Parkinson’s.

The video was produced by Dale Bluestein, executive director of Partnership Media Television




Message from the Board President

Paul Blom

Paul Blom

“I am inspired by those living with Parkinson’s disease and the individuals dedicated to building Parkinson’s-friendly communities™.”

I have had the pleasure of serving as the president of the NPFM board for the past nine years, and I am proud to say that our efforts in building a valued brand have allowed us to become the leader in Minnesota and surrounding areas for Parkinson’s awareness.

During the past year we have achieved a new level of success in building awareness and driving fund raising. NPFM has recently been awarded a substantial grant from the Otto Bremer Foundation to build Parkinson’s-friendly communities™ in Willmar, MN, Alexandria, MN and Fargo, ND. It is with great pleasure we enter these new community partnership s. We also received a grant from NPF to pursue a needs assessment for a much needed Care Management Module that will assist families.

We also launched Moving Day Twin Cities- a walk for Parkinson’s disease. Historically NPFM has organized a walk for many, many years. In 2012 we leveraged the national branding of the Moving Day campaign with Katie Couric as the honorary national chair. The slogan of Moving Day is “People Who Move Change the World”. With local support from Bert and Gayle Blyleven as our honorary co-chairs of NPFM and leaders forMoving Day, our event grew in both numbers of participants and in funds raised. This success allows us to better serve the Parkinson’s community.

In the pages of our annual report NPFM Annual Report 2012, we have highlighted a  few families who have experienced living with Parkinson’s disease and others who are serving the Parkinson’s community. NPFM is truly creating a new level of awareness and hope for those living with Parkinson’s disease. Your generosity makes this work possible.

I am extending my very personal thanks to our new and long-time supporters who bring help and hope to the more than 20,000 families living with the impact of Parkinson’s disease each day. Together we are improving lives.


Paul Blom, CEO Right at Home

NPFM President, Board of Directors

Diagnosing Parkinson’s disease … by colonoscopy?

by Martha Nance, M.D.,  medical director, Struthers Parkinson’s Center

Diagnosing Parkinson’s disease…by colonoscopy? Just kidding. But this idea may not be as far-fetched as it sounds! For years, people with Parkinson’s disease have been telling their doctors that Parkinson’s disease affects more than just the arms and the legs. Doctors are finally starting to listen. (more…)

New treatment by U of M may slow Parkinson’s

KMSP FOX 9 reported on a local story about a new treatment that the University of Minnesota is working on that may slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease.

Physicians and researchers are monitoring brain chemistry of people actively living with Parkinson’s. These professionals are detecting and tracking changes in the brain antioxidant level of glutathione while individuals are undergoing treatment with n-acetylcysteine (NAC).

How it works

The drug is administered intravenously and the brain is monitored with specialized highly sensitive MRI scanners. Once it is in the bloodstream, NAC gets converted into glutathione, which is a potent antioxidant that is also made by the body.

Those who are conducting the treatments are hoping that the antioxidants will slow pathological processes that cause or advance the course of Parkinson’s disease.

How effective is the treatment?

Very preliminary findings from this study show that they are able to determine an individual’s antioxidant level of glutathione before, during and after treatment with NAC. University of Minnesota researchers believe that by using high doses of NAC, they are able to alter brain glutathione levels, which may ultimately affect the course of disease. Overall, the findings of the project look promising.

The project has two phases:

Phase 1: Prove that it can be charted in the brain

Phase 2: Chart effect of oral doses in patients

FOX 9 Reporter Dawn Stevens spoke with Paul Blom, NPFM board president, about the new treatment as well.

“We do research on national level to help prevent falls, but to have scientific ability to come up with treatment that is going to advance people’s life and quality of life, it’s pretty amazing,” said Blom.

We will be sure to share any updates and findings from this new treatment. To hear more about what is happening with Parkinson’s disease research, check out the NPFM Medical blog postings here on our News Blog.

Depression and Parkinson’s: A simple test

by Steven Stein, M.D. Minneapolis Clinic of Neurology

Depression is a very common symptom in Parkinson’s disease and may affect nearly half of all patients. The cause of depression may be related to the circumstances that the Parkinson’s disease creates, but also may be related to some of the chemical changes going on in the brain. Depression is an important symptom to recognize because it can have a very significant effect on quality of life and because it is potentially treatable.

Sometimes the diagnosis of depression may not be immediately apparent. Your doctor may often ask you questions about your mood, but sometimes your doctor may also utilize various rating scales to help make that diagnosis. One such scale, included here, is the 15-item Geriatric Depression Scale.

Please feel free to answer the questions on this simple test and then share the results with your treating physician.

Note: The information included on this blog post is for educational purposes only. It is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. Reading the information on this blog does not create a physician-patient relationship.


Summer sun, your skin and Parkinson’s

By Martha Nance, M.D., medical director, Struthers Parkinson’s Center

The long-awaited long days of summer are here, and I head out to my garden, as do many of you (or to the lake, the jogging path, or even just the back porch), I am reminded to review the special measures that people with Parkinson’s disease need to take to maintain good skin health.

People with Parkinson’s disease have twice the risk of developing melanoma (a serious, potentially fatal form of skin cancer) as people who do not have Parkinson’s disease. In Caucasians, the risk of developing melanoma during a person’s lifetime is about 2 percent. In people with Parkinson’s disease, that risk doubles, up to about 4 percent.  (Interestingly, the correlation also goes the other way: people who have had melanoma are more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease).

The good news for non-Caucasians is that the lifetime risk of developing melanoma is lower than in Caucasians (about 0.3 to 0.4 percent in Hispanics and Native Americans, and 0.1 percent in people of Asian or African descent).  Unfortunately, there is no specific information about the risk of melanoma in people with Parkinson’s disease in those non-Caucasian groups, but we guess that they also have a higher risk than normal.

Scientists aren’t sure what the connection between Parkinson’s disease and melanoma is.  Is it something about the diseases?  Is it the medications that we use to treat Parkinson’s disease?  We don’t have a satisfactory answer to that question, but since the association between the two conditions goes both ways, it seems likely that it has something to do with the diseases themselves.

What can YOU do to lower your risk of developing melanoma?  We can’t make the Parkinson’s disease go away or change how much time you spent in the sun as a teenager, but you can protect your skin from the sun now and in the future.  Some researchers think that intermittent sun exposure (sunburn) increases melanoma risk even more than chronic heavy sun exposure (as in farmers or construction workers).

People with Parkinson’s disease can develop many other skin conditions, some related to Parkinson’s disease, and some just related to age; basal cell carcinomas, actinic keratoses, squamous cell carcinomas, seborrhea, etc.  Reducing sun exposure can also help to protect against some of these conditions, and an annual skin examination can help to detect them early.  All of these skin conditions and lesions can be treated, so there is no reason to postpone seeing the doctor about them.

So, my recommendations for people with Parkinson’s disease are:

  • Use sunscreen; avoid excessive sun exposure in general, and sunburn in particular
  • If you have a worrisome spot—a “mole” that is growing, bleeding or painful—have your doctor or dermatologist (skin specialist) take a biopsy as soon as possible. Don’t wait!
  • Have an annual skin exam, which includes the scalp and other areas that you can’t see
  • Consider scheduling regular visits with a dermatologist; ask your Parkinson’s doctor for a referral
  • Have fun in the sun this summer, but make sure your good health is “skin-deep!”
Note: The information included on this blog post is for educational purposes only. It is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. Reading the information on this blog does not create a physician-patient relationship.

Did you get the message about exercise? Keep Moving!

by Martha A. Nance, M.D., medical director, Struthers Parkinson’s Center

Run, run, run!

Did you get the message yet about EXERCISE as an important treatment for Parkinson’s disease? I know everyone just wants a pill that will make their Parkinson’s disease go away, but unfortunately, we don’t have that yet.

What we DO have, what has been shown to help both mice and humans with Parkinson’s disease, is exercise.

Just about every week for the last two to three years, there has been an article in a medical research journal describing the benefits of exercise. Some of the studies have looked at mice. Some have looked at bicycling, some at the effects of Tai Chi. The most recent article I saw showed that people who took levodopa had a more dramatic and sustained improvement in the function of the dominant hand, than in the nondominant hand. The researchers felt that this demonstrated that medication and active use of the limb combine together to produce more benefit. The nondominant hand improved some with medication alone, but the improvement was never as great as in the more active dominant hand.

Along those lines, there is a sense that vigorous exercise may help preserve brain cells better than lighter activities. Doctors do not agree yet on what the term “vigorous exercise” means in a person with Parkinson’s disease, or how often a person needs to exercise in order to get any benefit. Half an hour of exercise four days a week is certainly better than nothing! Give it a try!

If you have no idea where to begin, then start with your doctor, and ask for a referral to a physical therapist. The therapist can work with you to customize a home exercise program that fits your abilities, and is safe. Some people, after that, will join exercise classes or groups at the health club, the senior center, or the Parkinson’s Center.

A little peer pressure sometimes helps you to stick with a program! Others use a personal trainer to help keep them motivated. We do not know for sure that one kind of exercise is better than another for people with PD. I often say to people, however, based on common sense, that bicycling, or an elliptical machine, may be particularly useful. Using these pieces of equipment force a person to use the limbs on both sides in a symmetrical fashion. Often Parkinson’s is worse on one side than the other, so you can use your “good” side on the bicycle or elliptical machine to force the “bad” side to move bigger or faster than it would on its own. And then you keep those pathways in the brain activated.

Summer is a great time to start an exercise program, or to get back on track if you were less active over the winter. Join the growing number of people with Parkinson’s disease who walk, run, swim, pedal, Nordic walk, ski, golf, and bowl. Get out there and do SOMETHING!

Note: The information included on this blog is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Readers should always consult their own health care provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation. Readers should also contact their own providers if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. Reading the information on this blog does not create a physician-patient relationship.
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