Telemedicine improves access

Telemedicine improves access for people with Parkinson’s

Almost every afternoon, Dr. Mark Guttman closes his office door at the Centre for Movement Disorders clinic in Markham and turns on the TV. The waiting room may be empty, but he still has patients to see – via the Ontario Telemedicine Network.

Dr. Guttman describes how it works: “The patient and family go to a local hospital and enter one of the videoconferencing suites. The coordinator at the other end, usually a nurse, helps with the evaluation and handles the equipment. I am in my office. I can see the patient and the patient can see me. We have a conversation. Then I ask the nurse when it’s time to help with the physical examination.”

Using the high-resolution camera, Dr. Guttman can zoom in for a close-up of the patient’s symptoms. He says, “In Parkinson’s, it’s important to watch somebody to observe their speed of movement, their muscle tone and how they’re walking.” Also on hand are the latest tele-diagnostic instruments, such as, digital stethoscopes and digital imaging facilities that transfer information to the doctor.

Videoconferencing is enabling people with Parkinson’s disease in Ontario’s remote communities to access neurologists, like Dr. Guttman, without the time and expense of travelling to larger urban centres. “Some people were driving from Thunder Bay to see me. That’s 14 hours each way for a follow-up assessment that lasts 20 minutes,” says Dr. Guttman. “Now they just go to the local hospital and it’s so much easier.”

Dr. Guttman sees about 12 patients a week or 500 a year, in this manner. Over 90% of these patients have expressed satisfaction with the care they have received. The program is so successful that Dr. Guttman is installing a second videoconferencing suite in his clinic. 


Dr. Mark Guttman

What’s new in Parkinson’s disease medications?

Azilect® reported to have potential to affect progression

On August 26, 2008 a news release issued by Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., manufacturers of the drug, Azilect®, reports that the results of the ADAGIO phase 3 trial indicate that early treatment with 1 mg of Azilect supports the potential for Azilect to have an effect on the progression of Parkinson’s.

The news release was issued at the 12th Congress of European Federation of Neurological Societies in Madrid, Spain. The data have yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Since 2006, Azilect® has been approved by Health Canada for treating Parkinson’s symptoms, however the only provincial drug plan that provides coverage is Quebec. The medication may be covered under private insurance plans

Stalevo now covered under Quebec drug plan

As of October 2008, Stalevo has been approved and is now available in Quebec. The Common Drug Review (CDR) has recommended that it also be listed in other provinces. The medication may be covered under private insurance plans. 

Stalevo Information Sheet English

PSCs national ad campaign hits home


A man is sitting in an armchair in his living room when he hears the phone ringing in the kitchen. He rises apprehensively from his chair to make his way to the telephone. Suddenly, he is tackled by an intruder who physically prevents him from getting to the phone. Books, plates and chairs come crashing down around him as the telephone continues to ring and he struggles to get to it. Terrified, he looks into the face of his attacker and sees himself – his own body is wrestling with him, keeping him from doing the simple task of getting to the phone. Nothing’s easy when your body turns against you.

A woman sits at her kitchen table with a steaming mug of coffee in her left hand. Her despondent gaze, however, is focused on her right hand holding a creamer filled with milk. The look on her face says it all. “How am I going to pour this milk into my coffee?”  She knows this everyday task is going to present insurmountable challenges for her as her hands multiply to four and take a firm grip on her right arm, preventing her from adding milk to the now lukewarm mug of coffee. Everything’s harder when your body turns against you.

These two images are from a provocative national ad campaign themed, “Everything’s harder when your body turns against you,” which Parkinson Society Canada launched in April 2008. Designed to convey the struggle that people living with Parkinson’s disease (PD) experience daily, the controversial vignettes were created by TAXI 2, one of the top ad agencies in Canada.

The goals of the campaign were to show the world the daily reality of the over 100,000 Canadians living with PD, in a way that people could understand, and to dispel the myths that surround the disease. The campaign also sets the stage to raise much-needed funds for research and support services.

Gaggi Media, a media planning agency, secured pro-bono air and print space for the ads which appeared on television, social media networks, billboards, physicians’ office TV screens, the Globe and Mail, industry and mainstream magazines, and websites such as Google, Facebook, Yahoo and YouTube.

Public response to these hard-hitting images was overwhelming and led to increased visits to during the campaign. The ads were also rated as one of the top 10 ads on the Internet during April.

This thought-provoking campaign was created in collaboration with hundreds of Canadians with PD who shared their insights and experiences with the creative team to ensure powerful messaging that was genuine and truthful. Life can be a hard reality for those living with PD. Through these ads, PSC hopes to generate greater understanding and support.

To view the ads, visit and click on Media Centre.

Partnerships boost research funding

Partnering on research initiatives allows Parkinson Society Canada (PSC) to invest more money into more research that will ultimately benefit the over 100,000 Canadians living with Parkinson’s, their care partners, and families. It is the cornerstone of what we do as the largest non-government funder of Parkinson’s research in Canada.


PSC Research Announcements