Donald Calne Lecture

Dr. Ted Fon, Chair, Parkinson Society Canada’s Scientific Advisory Board and Chair, Donald Calne Selection Committee presents Dr. Andres Lozano with the Donald Calne Award in Ottawa.
Dr. Ted Fon (left), Chair, Parkinson Society Canada’s Scientific Advisory Board and Chair, Donald Calne Selection Committee presents Dr. Andres Lozano with the Donald Calne Award in Ottawa.

Location, location, location critical in Parkinson’s disease

Dr. Andres Lozano, distinguished neurosurgeon, professor and RR Tasker Chair in Functional Neurosurgery at the University of Toronto addressed over 120 attendees at the Donald Calne Lecture hosted by Parkinson Society Canada and Parkinson Society Ottawa, on Sunday, May 16th in Ottawa at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier.

Dr. Lozano, who was the first surgeon in North America to perform deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgery, brought his audience up to date on advances in DBS, the breakthrough surgery that has improved quality of life for many people with Parkinson’s. He also provided an overview of novel surgical approaches being tried, including: transplantation of dopamine-producing cells into the brain; stem cell therapy; gene therapy and trophic factors therapy. He said that, even more experimentally, researchers are looking into spinal cord stimulation and using new techniques such as shining a special light into the brain to activate or silence neurons.

Noting the absence of treatments that will slow Parkinson’s disease or stop it, Lozano said there is an urgent need to develop therapies that can put the brakes on the disease. “As neurosurgeons we are interested in seeking out misbehaving cells by mapping the brain and looking for them. Just as in real estate, the three most important things are location, location, location,” said Lozano. “We spend a lot of time figuring out where to go and getting individual neurons to reveal their secrets to us.”

“As we travel from one site to another, we are able to stop and listen to the language of the brain and we are able to see that the neurons fire with different patterns. Just as when you travel from country to country in Europe, going from Spain to Portugal, from France to Italy, over the course of time, we can tell where we are and we can understand the language of the brain, making surgery safer and more successful,” he added.

Attending the Donald Calne Lecture in Ottawa are (left to right): Dr. Ted Fon, Chair, Parkinson Society Canada’s Scientific Advisory Board and Chair, Donald Calne Lecture Selection Committee; Bruce Ireland, Chair, Parkinson Society Canada Board of Directors; Dennise Taylor-Gilhen, Executive Director, Parkinson Society Ottawa; Dr. Andres Lozano, recipient, Donald Calne Lecture; W. P. Bruce Good, Vice President, Partnerships and Communications, Rx&D, sponsor of the event; Joyce Gordon, President & CEO, Parkinson Society Canada.
Attending the Donald Calne Lecture in Ottawa are (left to right): Dr. Ted Fon, Chair, Parkinson Society Canada’s Scientific Advisory Board and Chair, Donald Calne Lecture Selection Committee; Bruce Ireland, Chair, Parkinson Society Canada Board of Directors; Dennise Taylor-Gilhen, Executive Director, Parkinson Society Ottawa; Dr. Andres Lozano, recipient, Donald Calne Lecture; W. P. Bruce Good, Vice President, Partnerships and Communications, Rx&D, sponsor of the event; Joyce Gordon, President & CEO, Parkinson Society Canada.

Every time a tremor cell fires in the brain, it causes a tremor. If neuroscientists can put an electrode in the middle of the brain and turn on electricity through the electrode in the cells in the brain, they can control the tremor. Lozano noted more research is needed into this and other aspects of Parkinson’s. “We’ve become good at treating tremor, rigidity and slow movement. We’re not good at treating the non-motor aspects of Parkinson’s, such as depression, posture, cognition, sleep, olfaction (sense of smell), sexual dysfunction and speech.” These are areas for future investigation.

Our thanks to Rx&D who sponsored this year’s Donald Calne Lecture.

Rx&D

The Donald Calne Lecture was recorded and is available on Parkinson Society Canada’s website.

Become an advocate for living well with Parkinson’s

Yvon TrepanierYvon Trepanier,
Chair, National Advocacy Committee

Painting a picture of what it means to live well with Parkinson’s is at the heart of everything we do on the national advocacy committee. After all, how else would our elected representatives and policy makers begin to understand the many ways that Parkinson’s affects quality of life – not just the health effects but the social, economic and other impacts – and the need for input and support from a wide range of government ministries and departments? Together we are making progress in effecting change… but there is much more to do.

On the federal front, Parkinson Society Canada is one of the lead organizations asking the federal government to support the development of a National Brain Strategy and to protect the privacy of genetic information. We are generating support for several private members’ motions and bills that address issues of importance to the Canadian Parkinson’s community. We are also calling for accelerated and increased investment in both Parkinson’s-specific research and broad-based neuroscience research. After successfully leading the effort to garner government support for a national epidemiological study, Parkinson Society Canada is now serving as a member of the implementation committee for the four-year National Population Health Study of Neurological Conditions.

At the provincial level:
Parkinson Society British Columbia is a member of the Better PharmaCare Coalition which is lobbying the BC government for better BC PharmaCare program coverage for evidence-based prescription medications and health products.
Parkinson Society Manitoba supported former MP, Judy Wasylicia-Leis’s introduction of a bill in Parliament to prohibit discrimination on the grounds of a person’s genetic characteristics. It also updated the provincial NDP caucus on the new statistics showing that as many as 6,000 Manitobans have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Previous estimates stood at 3,500.
• Our regional partners in Ontario are bringing to the attention of policy makers the role of speech language pathology services in enabling such basic functions as swallowing and communicating. They are also partnering with other health charities in working with the Ontario government to develop a provincial Brain Strategy.

These are just some of the ways we are advocating for improved quality of life for Canadians living with Parkinson’s, families and care partners.

You can do your part. It only takes one person to get the ball rolling. Write your elected officials or arrange to meet with them on a regular basis. Outline some of the key issues that Canadians with Parkinson’s have identified as being important. Share your own story as a way of helping officials appreciate the challenges that people with Parkinson’s and families face. Mention the need for public education and awareness programs to reduce stigma and end social isolation. In parting, let your officials know they can contact you, in future, for more information.

Visit the Parkinson Society Canada Advocacy Centre for background materials and template letters that will help you communicate with your federal elected officials. There is work to be done. Let’s do it!

Drum circles as fun and therapy

by Philip Thomas
Member of the Creston Community Drum Circle in Creston, BC

Did you know that alligators can’t be walked on leashes? Within minutes of joining a drum circle, it is a relief to discover that, instead of musical notes, this internal chant is a drumming pattern. Even if you are rhythmically challenged, you immediately feel included and relaxed and create a powerful sound that is not only fun but good for your health.

So, what is a Drum Circle? A drum circle is a group of people coming together for recreational music-making using hand drums and percussion instruments. The focus is not on performance but on personal or group development and wellness or just plain fun. Simply put, bang on a drum; it’s good for you.

Philip Thomas demonstrates his drumming skills.
Philip Thomas demonstrates his drumming skills.

In an article on drumming as a therapeutic tool, Michael Drake, who facilitates drum circles and workshops, notes: “Drum therapy is an ancient approach that uses rhythm to promote healing and self-expression. From the shamans of Mongolia to the Minianka healers of West Africa, therapeutic rhythm techniques have been used for thousands of years to create and maintain physical, mental and spiritual health.”

He goes on to outline some of the benefits of drumming: “Recent research reviews indicate that drumming accelerates physical healing, boosts the immune system and produces feelings of well-being and a release of emotional trauma. Other studies have demonstrated the calming, focusing, and healing effects of drumming on Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease patients and a wide range of physical disabilities.”

This only leaves me asking: “If not on a leash, how do you take an alligator for a walk?”

For more on the health benefits of drumming, see Michael Drake’s complete article, Drum Therapy – Therapeutic Effects of Drumming.

Doug Martens – Early Bird Prize Winner

Winnipeg resident, Doug Martens wins SuperWalk Early Bird Prize. Shown here on vacation with wife Carol.
Winnipeg resident, Doug Martens wins SuperWalk Early Bird Prize. Shown here on vacation with wife Carol.

Doug Martens, 57, of Winnipeg, Manitoba is the official winner of the first 2010 Parkinson SuperWalk early bird prize draw for a $500 Roots gift card. He qualified by raising over $100 online by May 3rd. “Having my name drawn was totally unexpected,” says Doug. “I rarely win anything so this is like a gift.”

Doug knows firsthand the value of the annual Parkinson SuperWalk. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at age 50 and within two-and-half years of the diagnosis, he found the tremor in his left arm was so noticeable it affected his ability to continue to work as a regional pharmacy manager for the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. He retired at 53.

Over the years, Doug has benefited from the support, education, research and advocacy provided by Parkinson Society Canada and its regional partners. He champions the Parkinson SuperWalk, noting that “the funds raised in SuperWalk go towards easing the burden for people living with Parkinson’s, their families and care partners and finding a cure so that others don’t have to live with the disease.”

Doug and his wife have decided to donate his Early Bird Prize to Parkinson Society Manitoba so that the Parkinson SuperWalk events in Brandon, Gimli, Morden and Winnipeg can provide prizes during SuperWalk to encourage others to raise more money.

Read more about Doug’s journey with Parkinson’s on Parkinson Society Canada’s website.

Parkinson SuperWalk

National Volunteer Awards Now Open for Nominations

Parkinson Society Canada is now accepting nominations for its annual national volunteer awards. The deadline for submissions is Friday, September 17, 2010.

Parkinson Society Canada Volunteer Awards

Parkinson Society Canada offers three awards each year to recognize individuals for their outstanding contributions to the Parkinson cause in Canada:

  • the David Simmonds Leadership Award, given to a Leadership Volunteer
  • the Mimi Feutl Award, given to a Client Services Volunteer, and
  • the Dr. Morton Shulman Award, given to an Advocacy Volunteer

The description and nomination forms for each of the three awards are available on Parkinson Society Canada’s website.

Please consider nominating someone in your community who has made a difference.

For more information, contact general.info@parkinson.ca.