April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month

Happy Parkinson’s Awareness Month! The 35W bridge will be lit up in a beautiful blue on April 17th in support of Parkinson’s Awareness, so be sure to take a look on your commute home. If you won’t be able to stop by, find a high definition livestream right here on the NPFM website!
Here at NPFM we focus on spreading awareness all year long, but the month of April is a great time to get involved and learn more about Parkinson’s Disease. Whether you are looking to participate in upcoming events or simply interested in learning more about our community, be sure to check out all of the great info that we have to share.
Read stories from Minnesota Parkinson’s patients, family members, friends, and professionals.  Learn how NPFM is working to create Parkinson’s-friendly communities across Minnesota and find resources from friends of Parkinson’s across the state.
Get Support
No matter what stage you are at in your Parkinson’s journey, NPF Minnesota is here to support your family in your Parkinson’s journey. We offer dedicated support resource for patients and caregivers, including information on:
Medical Corner
Learn more from local Parkinson’s disease experts about Deep Brain stimulation and current research being conducted. Meet our team of Medical Advisors and ask the experts any questions you may be having.
Simply wondering about the basics? Be sure to take a look at our fact sheet for a more generalized overview of Parkinson’s disease.
How to Help 
NPFM is working to make sure all people with Parkinson’s and their families can live well. We work every day to improve the lives of Parkinson’s care through research, education and outreach. You can support our work by making a donationvolunteering, or by joining us a corporate sponsor. Together, we will improve care for Parkinson’s and enhance the lives of people affected by Parkinson’s disease in the Upper Midwest.
News & Events

Stay up-to-date on the latest Parkinson’s news from local sources and the national foundation. Moving Day® 2015 is approaching fast and we encourage you to learn more, here: www.movingdaytwincities.org

Moving Day® Kickoff Breakfast

breakfast-inviteGet ready for Moving Day® 2015 by attending our annual kickoff breakfast on Friday, February 27!

The event will be held at the Metropolitan Ballroom in Golden Valley from 7:30-9 a.m.

The event is free and will feature several guest speakers to help raise excitement for Moving Day® on May 2.

A continental breakfast will be served.

A RSVP is required for the event. Get your spot now by emailing info@parkinsonmn.org or calling 763.545.1272.


Paul Blom Named to NPF Board of Directors

MIAMIJan. 14, 2015 — The National Parkinson Foundation (NPF) announced the election of two new members to its Board of Directors: Erin R. Borger and Paul R. Blom.

“We are pleased to add individuals with diverse backgrounds and geographies to NPF’s Board—our goal is to have NPF be truly representative of the Parkinson’s community,” stated John W. Kozyak, Esq., NPF Chairman of the Board. “Erin and Paul’s combined experience will help move the mission of NPF forward to make life better for people with Parkinson’s and their families.”

Erin R. Borger was elected to the board in December 2014. Mr. Borger is in charge of Wealth Management in Northern California for UBS Financial Services. He serves as the Complex Director, overseeing $15 billion in assets in eight offices. He has served with UBS Financial since 2008, including his previous roles as Director, Branch Manager based inFlorida and Management Training Advisor based in New York and New Jersey. Mr. Borger began his career with Morgan Stanley in 2003 as a Financial Advisor. Mr. Borger has long held an interest in neurological conditions and has supported various philanthropies personally and through his family foundation. He serves on the Board of Trustees: Visiting Committee and Neurology Committee for the University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine. He is also currently on the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Advisory Board and F.I.N. Sea Foundation’s Board of Directors.

Paul R. Blom was elected to the board in November 2014, as an ex officio member. Mr. Blom recently served as the president of the NPF Minnesota Board of Directors for the past ten years and is the current Chair of NPF’s Chapter Advisory Council, working to strengthen the NPF Chapter network. A strong advocate for the Parkinson’s community, he has served as a member of the Community Advisory Board for Struthers Parkinson’s Center, an NPF Center of Excellence. Mr. Blom and his husband, Bob White, are the owners of the Right at Home franchise in Bloomington, MN, and were instrumental in helping to secure the Right at Home franchise’s national sponsorship of Moving Day®, NPF’s signature fundraising walk.  Additionally, Mr. Blom serves as Vice-Chair of Training to Serve, a Minnesota non-profit that provides training for senior service providers regarding the unique needs and barriers of the aging LGBT community.  He also serves on the boards of Avenues for Homeless Youth and the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus, and he is Treasurer of the Minneapolis Area Senior Workers Association.

Alan M. Slewett, who has been on the NPF board since 2001, became a member of the NPF Emeritus board as of January 2015. Mr. Slewett is the former President of Valentine Liquors, Inc., a Miami area chain of retail liquor and grocery stores.  He is the son of Nathan Slewett, the longtime, former President and Chairman Emeritus of the National Parkinson Foundation.

Alan Slewett has been a dedicated Board member and valued supporter in his own right,” stated John W. Kozyak, Esq.“We are honored to have his continued involvement as an Emeritus member of the Board.”

View a complete list of the NPF Board of Directors.

About the National Parkinson Foundation (NPF)
Founded in 1957, the National Parkinson Foundation’s mission is to improve the quality of care for people with Parkinson’s disease through research, education and outreach. NPF has funded more than $182 million in care, research and support services. For more information about NPF, visit www.parkinson.org, or call the NPF Helpline at 1-800-4PD-INFO (473-4636).

About Parkinson’s Disease (PD)
Affecting an estimated one million Americans and four to six million worldwide, PD is the second most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s and is the 14th leading cause of death in the United States. It is associated with a progressive loss of motor control (e.g., shaking or tremor at rest and lack of facial expression) as well as non-motor symptoms (e.g., depression and anxiety). There is no cure for PD and 60,000 new cases are diagnosed each year in the United States alone.

Media Contact:
Leilani Pearl
Vice President, Marketing and Communications

SOURCE National Parkinson Foundation

Moving Day® 2015 Final Tally

Twin Cities Moving Day® was a huge success!

This exciting day filled with movement, education and camaraderie for those living with and impacted by Parkinson’s was the most successful yet. All proceeds benefit the National Parkinson Foundation Minnesota’s mission to improve the lives of those living with PD through education, outreach and grant work. In 2014 we raised over $231,000 and we set the bar even higher for 2015 with a goal of $250,000.

Although the website will not be updated until the fundraiser closes, our current total is $266,341! 

Donations will be taken until May 31st, and then the official final tally will be announced. Stay up to date, here: www.movingdaytwincities.org

VIDEO – Symptoms and Diagnosis

Continuing to explore the topic of symptoms and diagnosis, watch this short video which was part of our partnership with TPT in 2014.

All through the month of January we will continue to explore symptoms and diagnosis of PD, so keep checking back!


Parkinson’s Disease – Early symptoms and diagnosis

january MOAWith the start of 2015 NPFM is launching a new initiative, addressing issues surrounding Parkinson’s disease. The articles and videos used during the year-long campaign will open a conversation about the disease and its affects on individuals and families living with PD.

Each month will feature a new topic. If you have an issue you would like to see addressed, please contact our office.

For the month of January NPFM will focus on early symptoms and diagnosis.

We have two features this month: a video regarding the topic from our partnership with TPT in 2014 and a written piece from Dr. Martha Nance of the Struther’s Parkinson’s Center in Golden Valley.




By Dr. Martha Nance
The four “cardinal features” of Parkinson’s disease that lead doctors to make the diagnosis are:
Slowness or smallness of movement
Stiffness of the limbs
Changes in posture, gait, and balance

An occasional person might use exactly these words to describe the symptoms that they have noticed, but some may use a variety of other words, or notice more specific or different symptoms.

“Tremor” refers to rhythmic, repetitive movements, often in the finger, hand, or arm, and often just on one side.  Some people may use the word “shaky” or “shakiness”.  Some people can make the tremor go away by clenching the fist or moving the hand to a different position.  The typical tremor of Parkinson’s disease is most noticeable at rest (a “resting tremor”) and improves or goes away with activity. Tremor can involve the chin or mouth or the leg, less often the trunk or neck.

“Slowness” and “smallness” of movements may manifest as slower walking, a shortening of the stride length (“shuffling gait”), or slowness doing usual activities like dressing or preparing meals.  Smallness of movements in the hands may lead to small handwriting, inaccuracy or slowness of keyboarding, sewing, playing the piano, or other hand activities that require a high degree of coordination.  If movements of the tongue and lips and throat are slow or small, the voice may become quiet, raspy, slurred, or stammering in nature.  Family members and friends may notice a lack of facial expression or slowed blink rate.

“Stiffness” may present as cramping, tightness, charley horses, or aching—often in the same limb or limbs that have tremor or smallness of movement.  The hand or arm may be held in a stiff posture when a person is walking.  It can be hard to separate the stiffness due to Parkinson’s disease from stiffness due to arthritis or other causes.  Stiffness occasionally results in pain.

Changes in posture and gait are often more noticeable to the viewer than to the person who has the problem.  Family members may repeatedly urge the person to “stand up straight” or “quit slouching” or “hurry up”.  A stooped or forward-leaning posture, shortened stride length or arm swing, and reduced confidence about a person’s balance are common.

In addition to these core symptoms, people with Parkinson’s disease may experience—or may have experienced—a host of other symptoms in the years leading up to the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.  Constipation, loss of sense of smell, changes in mood, and a variety of disturbances of sleep are common and may begin years (possibly decades!) before the motor symptoms start. Of course, there are many other causes of constipation, loss of smell, mood and sleep disturbance that have nothing to do with Parkinson’s disease.  Therefore, doctors do not make a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease until the motor symptoms are present.

So, how does a doctor diagnose Parkinson’s disease?  Usually just by recognizing those core motor features.  The more of the features a person has, the more confident the doctor is about the diagnosis.  If only one or two features are present, the doctor may be reluctant to call it Parkinson’s disease.  If there are additional or atypical symptoms (prominent changes in thinking or memory right away, hallucinations, falling as an early symptom, and abrupt onset of symptoms are some atypical symptoms), the doctor may suspect a variant of Parkinson’s disease rather than the usual condition we described above.  If the doctor is unsure whether a person has Parkinson’s disease or not, he may ask the patient to return in a few weeks or months for a second neurological exam.

Researchers are working to develop a “test for Parkinson’s disease”, but that hasn’t quite happened yet.  The FDA has approved a kind of brain scan called a DAT Scan (different from a CT scan or MRI scan), which measures the availability of dopamine in the brain, but the test is expensive (and may not be covered by insurance), not necessary in clearcut cases of obvious Parkinson’s disease, and hard to interpret in cases that are unusual or atypical.  If your doctor has ordered a DAT scan, check to make sure your insurance will cover the cost of the test!

Depending on the situation, the doctor may order a regular brain imaging test (CT or MRI), to rule out other things that can cause symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease, or do blood tests to look for other medical conditions that can cause stiffness, tremor, or pain.

For many years, doctors have said that “the best test for Parkinson’s disease is to see how well the person’s symptoms respond to levodopa.”  In a sense, taking a levodopa pill determines just about the same thing that a DAT scan measures—the need for more dopamine in the brain—but in a way that is often quite obvious to the person with Parkinson’s disease, the family, and the physician.  You should discuss with your doctor whether you should take levodopa, or any other Parkinson medication.

The time of diagnosis is a difficult time for a person with Parkinson’s disease.  If the diagnosis comes as a surprise, it is difficult.  If the diagnosis is slow in coming, or different doctors disagree about the diagnosis, that is equally difficult.  Make sure that your doctor has told you what you need to know about the diagnosis, any medications that you might receive, and any rehabilitation therapy that has been recommended.  Seek out accurate information, as available through the National Parkinson Foundation pamphlets and books.  And don’t be afraid to ask questions!  There is life after a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease!

For more about Parkinson’s disease, early symptoms and useful information visit the national website: www.parkinson.org.

“My Story” Moving Day® 2015 – Team Chloe

Who is looking forward to Moving Day® 2015?

We sure are! Here at NPFM, we love highlighting all of the great teams that will be participating in the walk. If you are interested in having your team featured, please email rachel@parkinsonmn.org for more information.

Our spotlight team today is Team Chloe, led by Karen Anderson and her granddaughter Chloe Anderson. This will be their first walk with the National Parkinson Foundation, and they have already raised over $1,000. Read more about Karen and Chloe and why they decided to walk for Parkinson’s, below.

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The inspiration behind the team is Chloe, Karen’s young granddaughter. She overheard her grandparents talking about a friend of theirs from Florida who has a Parkinson’s related illness and wanted to learn more about the disease and how she could help.

Their friend lives in Florida and is an active man, biking 70 miles on his 70th birthday and 71 miles on his 71st birthday. When Chloe learned that he would be unable to make the trip this year, she was determined to help. “Chloe wanted to go biking for him” Karen explains, but “considering the unfavorable weather conditions of Minnesota, we began researching other events.” Karen and Chloe searched the web to learn more about his diagnosis of Corticobasal degeneration, which is within the same family as Parkinson’s. Although there were no events for this specific illness, they found the Parkinson’s Moving Day® 2015 walk at the top of the search results. “She really wanted to participate in [the walk]” says Karen, “so we started a team and it became Team Chloe because she was the inspiration for it.”

Karen also discussed the importance of supporting NPFM and raising awareness. Before this year, she had not taken a lot of time to understand the disease but after the passing of two friends she began to look into it more. “I think raising awareness and getting more money out there to help with research [are great reasons to support the National Parkinson Foundation by participating in Moving Day® 2015.]” stated Karen.

Karen and Chloe are looking forward to enjoying this fun experience with family and raising awareness for Parkinson’s. We are excited to have Team Chloe walking for NPFM this year!

Stay tuned for more team profiles and be sure to submit your own.

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PD Shimmers Lights Neighborhood, Raises Awareness












You don’t have to look far to find lights in neighborhood yards to celebrate the holiday season.

But for a man in Plymouth, the yard display goes beyond helping his neighborhood brighten for the holidays.

Mike Justak, founder of PD Shimmers, lights up his neighborhood each year with a special message: 58,000 lights shining bright, representing the number of people newly diagnosed with Parkinson’s each year.

Mike was diagnosed with PD several years ago, which is why the lights and number are important to him. After seeing a video online about light presentations he was hooked, and started making plans to create his own.

Year one saw just 8,000 lights in his presentation. It is now 58,000 and eight neighbors joining in the fun. The entire presentation is synchronized to music, broadcast on its very own radio station. Mike has even set up a live stream so those unable to attend can still enjoy the show.

The show runs daily from 5-10 p.m. at 4320 Ithaca Lane North in Plymouth.

For more information or to watch the live stream, visit www.pdshimmers.com.


lights-web mike-shimmers


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