By Mike Miles
When I was younger, April would always bring to mind April Fool’s Day. I can remember many lighthearted April Fool’s shenanigans. Perhaps you do as well. Now, as Executive Director of Dallas Area Parkinsonism Society (DAPS), April always brings to mind Parkinson’s Awareness Month. I still enjoy a good try at fooling family, friends, and especially my grandkids on April first, but then my thoughts turn to the seriousness of the challenges of Parkinson’s.
When one thinks of Parkinson’s disease, usually the first thing that comes to mind is tremors. That is understandable as tremors are the most obvious challenge that people with Parkinson’s face. However, although known as a movement disorder, Parkinson’s is really a disease of the brain. For reasons not fully understood, nerve cells in the brain, called neurons, begin to die. Some of these neurons produce dopamine, a chemical that sends messages to the part of the brain that controls movement and coordination. Although tremors are a very common symptom, a person with Parkinson’s may also experience other motor symptoms such as slowed movement, rigidity, and difficulty with balance. There is a long list of secondary motor symptoms and an equally long list of nonmotor symptoms such as sleep disturbances, depression, slowed thinking, confusion, and dementia. Some of these secondary nonmotor symptoms can be more troublesome than the movement issues.
As a chronic and progressive disease, Parkinson’s comes on slowly and worsens over time; currently there is no cure. However, the good news is that there is ongoing research for a cure and a general consensus that a healthy lifestyle can greatly improve quality of life and slow the progression of Parkinson’s symptoms. Exercise is one of the primary keys to slowing down the progression of symptoms. This is where DAPS is making a difference! The DAPS mission—impacting and improving the lives of those affected by Parkinson’s disease—is being fulfilled through our exercise classes, speech and swallowing classes, support groups for partners-in-care, dance for people with movement disorders, aquatic exercise, and one of our newest programs, non-contact boxing for people with Parkinson’s. DAPS currently has 10 locations in the Dallas area providing free services for the Parkinson’s community.
To learn more about Parkinson’s disease and the services that DAPS provides, please visit the DAPS website at www.daps.us.
Support Groups, Classes and Resources
Dallas Area Parkinsonism Society (DAPS): http://www.daps.us/
DAPS serves as a resource for the Parkinson’s community by providing education, speech and exercise classes, Dance for Movement Disorders, Non-Contact Boxing, and support groups free of charge for participants at a number of locations in the Dallas and Collin county areas. A monthly general meeting is held in Dallas on a Monday, at 1 p.m. (date varies). For more information, to find a group that meets near you, or to begin receiving the newsletter email or call the DAPS office. Jill Dominguez at 972-620-7600 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Dallas Young Onset Parkinson’s Support Group: For those diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in their 50’s or earlier and their caregivers, this group offers support, education, compassion, information, encouragement, and understanding as we learn to live with this disease together. http://www.dfwyopd.org/
Texas Health Presbyterian – Dallas, PD Support Group:
This support group is a free resource for all interested members of the community and is held on the third Thursday of each month at 6 p.m. at the Texas Health Resources University (THRU), Room 117.
Program Coordinator: can be reached at 214-345-4224 or DallasMovementDisorders@TexasHealth.org
Parkinson Voice Project: http://www.parkinsonvoiceproject.org/
Parkinson Voice Project preserves the voices of individuals with Parkinson’s through intensive voice therapy, follow up support, research, education, and community awareness. Check out this website to view videos of how the Parkinson Voice Project can help restore & maintain your voice. Contact: 469-375-6500
Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinson’s: http://www.davisphinneyfoundation.org/dpf/who-we-are
The Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinson’s is unique in the Parkinson’s community, whose mission is to help people living with Parkinson’s to live well today. They are committed to supporting programs and research that deliver inspiration, information and tools that will enable people living with Parkinson’s to take more control in managing their disease.
Movement Disorder Specialists:
It’s really important to have your loved one working with the experts, and the experts in PD are Movement Disorder Specialists. There is so much ongoing research on PD, and these doctors have the most current info on meds and treatment plans. Below are links for the UTSW, Baylor and Presbyterian Dallas Movement Disorder Clinics…
UTSW – Drs Richard Dewey, Padraig’ O’Suilleabhain, Shilpa Chitnis, Pravin Khemani and Neepa Patel
Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas –Dr. Aanchal Taneja; http://www.texashealth.org/MovementDisordersDallas Phone: 214-345-4440
Baylor Dallas- Movement Disorders Center – Dr. Madhavi Thomas
9101 North Central Expressway, Suite 400, Dallas, TX 75231, Phone: 214.820.9272
Texas Institute for Neurological Disorders: Offices in Sherman, Denison and McKinney
Dr. Bharathy Sundaram www.neuro-TIND.com Phone: 844-754-8463 Note: Dr. Sundaram is not a Movemenet Disorder Specialist, however she is a Neurologist who specializes in PD and programming for persons with DBS.
Neurology Consultants of Dallas: Nirav Pavasia, M.D., www.neurologydallas.com, Phone: 214-750-9977