Class offers help for Parkinson's patients - East Valley Tribune: News

Class offers help for Parkinson's patients

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Posted: Sunday, December 7, 2008 5:52 pm | Updated: 9:31 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

With the help of a class called "PD 101," people battling Parkinson's disease do not have to look far to find ways to improve their health and well-being.

Regardless of where people with the affliction obtain medical care, the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, provides an array of services including recreation, support groups, clinical practice, a resource center and research and education, according to the center's Web site.

One such recent PD 101 class, open to patients, their families and anyone who is interested, was taught to a tight-knit group of seven people with Parkinson's at the Scottsdale Granite Reef Senior Center. Usually, classes - offered once a week for four weeks - consist of around 40 people.

In PD 101, the first week's material covers basic neurology, disease process and symptoms.

The second week focuses on treatment, primarily medications and deep brain stimulation surgery.

Week three is exercise and nutrition and week four is mind-body connections, including depression, sleep disorders, coping, as well as talking to your doctor and caregiving.

Ali Miller, 55, from Phoenix, describes the PD 101 class as "terrific." Miller was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease at 47.

"I noticed a little tremor in my right hand as an initial symptom; it didn't go away and other symptoms started to develop over the course of about a year before I finally made it to a neurologist," said Miller.

Margaret Coles, PD 101 instructor and program manager at the Parkinson Center, said one of the best ways to live with a chronic disease is to understand it, its impact on daily living and what can be done proactively about it.

"The things we hear frequently from people who have attended PD 101 is that they are not alone and that they feel more hopeful about the future," Coles said. "When you can increase understanding and decrease anxiety it is much easier for people to get on with living their lives."

When asked what patients can take away from this class, Coles said there are a number of things.

"They learn the obvious like knowledge of the disease, the process and symptoms of PD, medical and surgical treatments, and then the not so obvious but maybe more important, which is how to live with the disease every day," said Coles.

"Exercise, nutrition, dealing with depression and sleep disorders, how to talk to your doctor, caregiving and then any other topics of import to the group," she said.

Miller said she wished the class was available at the time of her diagnosis.

"I had to do research myself to find answers to questions, treatment options available, professionals who could assess my deficiencies and needs, and support systems in the community," she said.

Miller added that knowledge is power when dealing with Parkinson's disease and said she was looking forward to visiting the center.

PD 101 is open to the public and is held at different locations. Visit for dates and times and to learn about other programs offered by the center.

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