Parkinson’s Awareness: How YOU can help

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

April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month, and because of that, many of the Parkinson’s programs in Minnesota are offering seminars or classes about the disease for people with Parkinson’s disease and their families. Several of these programs are listed in the “events” section of this website.

Seminars led by health professionals are fine and well, and they will help people new to the disease, or people new to their stage of the disease, to understand their symptoms a little better, and to know what kinds of treatments are available. But I think there is a different kind of awareness, perhaps even more important, one that YOU can help with. Think about it—your doctors and their care team can help you to understand what is happening to you, how the Parkinson’s is affecting you, what treatments would be best for you, and what problems to look for in the future.

But only you can tell other people what it is REALLY like to have Parkinson’s disease, how it is to live with the disease every day, and what they can do to help you—or to help the next person they meet who has the same diagnosis.

You are in contact every day with coworkers, neighbors, friends and relatives. Get an extra copy of an NPF brochure to give to the nosy neighbor who is always asking questions. Give your friends the address of the NPF website, so they can get accurate information about the disease. If you think that your neurologist has helped you, pass on the name to your coworker to give to his mother or aunt who was just diagnosed and is afraid. If you freeze up sometimes as you walk, teach the people around you how to help you! Remember, there was a time when you had no idea what “freezing of gait” meant. But now you do. They still don’t, though, and so you will need to tell them what helps to get you unstuck (hint: sometimes pushing you, or pulling you, is NOT the helpful thing to do; sometimes, what you need most, is time and patience. Tell them that!).

The annual Walk for Parkinson’s, called “Moving Day”, is coming up on May 4. I hope—and expect—to see all of you there, and I have spoken to the WeatherGods and promise that the snow will have melted by then. Bring your family, bring your coworkers, bring your church group. Print up some t-shirts for your group, as many participants did last year: “Gregger’s Leggers”, “Grannie’s Groupies”, whatever. Wear silly hats. This is a wonderful event that goes a long way to dispelling people’s misconceptions about Parkinson’s disease. People with Parkinson’s disease are young and old, male and female, and believe it or not, they can also be healthy and fit! Prove it to the world—dust off the cobwebs, call a friend, and come to the Walk.

Make the commitment to tell SOMEBODY about Parkinson’s this month. Only by connecting with each other, by inviting each other to share our stories and to learn about the disease, can we hope to harness all the strength and energy that is out there, and focus them on solving the problems of Parkinson’s disease, both big and small. Some people have money to support research. Some have novel ideas. Some have compassion. And others might just have the practical skills that can help a person get through the day more easily. We need them all!

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. Read 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.


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