SuperWalk 2009

Maxine Thistle, St. John’s wins the Early Bird SuperWalk prize
Maxine Thistle, St. John’s wins the Early Bird SuperWalk prize

SuperWalk 2009 announces its first Early Bird Winner!

Congratulations to Maxine Thistle of St. John’s Newfoundland, SuperWalk’s first Early Bird winner. Maxine receives a $500 gift certificate to Chapters/Indigo and is eager to start spending.

After her best friend was diagnosed with Parkinson’s 16 years ago, Maxine began to volunteer for Parkinson Society Newfoundland & Labrador and has been heavily involved ever since. As an organizing member of the first SuperWalk in St. John’s, a former chair of their Board for five years and a current member of the Education and Support Committee, Maxine knows the importance of the monies raised by SuperWalk. She is especially concerned about the ongoing need for support, not just for those diagnosed with Parkinson’s, but for their family and friends as well. That is why she walks.

“We need to concentrate on providing support because everyone affected by Parkinson’s needs it,” says Maxine. “Even if we found a cure tomorrow it is so important that we make sure people are equipped to cope with the disease in their daily lives.”

Maxine remains hopeful that her efforts to effect change, along with those of so many other volunteers, are truly making a difference.

“There are a lot of challenges that arise when you have Parkinson’s. It’s not a pretty disease,” says Maxine. “The biggest challenge is to stay positive. There is hope at the end of the tunnel. The question is, just when are we going to find a cure?”

Armed with this hope, there is no doubt in Maxine’s mind that walkers in over 80 communities across Canada will reach this year’s SuperWalk fundraising goal of $2.4 million.

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Creative Expressions contest

creative-expressionsParkinson Society Canada seeks artistic talent!

If you have a painting, photo, or other visual art that you would like to share we would like to hear from you.

We are looking for your ‘Creative Expressions’ to display on Parkinson Society Canada’s thank you and holiday cards.

Many people with Parkinson’s have discovered creative talents once diagnosed. They use their creative expressions as a way to convey their experiences and feelings while coping with their disease.

If you have Parkinson’s disease and would like a chance to have your artwork displayed on our cards or in the ‘Creative Expressions’ section of our website please send an email with an attached image of your artwork in .jpg form to general.info@parkinson.ca .

Want to see more ‘Creative Expressions’? Visit our website at www.parkinson.ca

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Message from the editor

Welcome to the latest edition of E Parkinson Post!

In this issue, we shine a spotlight on balance, a critical factor in Parkinson’s. We begin with a look at research and strategies for improving physical balance and mobility. Some involve modern electronics, such as iPods and video games; others require a swimsuit or trunks and access to a pool.

However, balance is also about life balance – juggling work and home, making time for family and friends, scheduling time for recreation and travel, volunteering in the community. In our First Person feature, Marc Bellefeuille describes how his passion for sports weaves through the many threads of his life.

The Advocacy column addresses the delicate balancing act of using the right strategies and tactics to ensure that our advocacy efforts have maximum impact, such as the federal government’s June 5, 2009 announcement of the first-ever Canada-wide study on neurological diseases.

We congratulate the first Early Bird Winner for SuperWalk for Parkinson’s 2009. Online registration is higher than ever before. If you haven’t registered yet, we invite you to register now.

Comments, questions and story ideas are always welcome. You can send them to editor@parknison.ca

We hope you enjoy this issue.

Marjie Zacks
Editor

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Music to walk by…

Could walking to music improve gait and balance in Parkinson’s? That’s what Dr. Lesley Brown, a kinesiology professor at the University of Lethbridge would like to know.

Director of the Balance Research Laboratory at the University of Lethbridge, Dr. Brown notes, “One of the major challenges with walking, that leads to instability and falls, is a further slowness when people with Parkinson’s try to multi-task; for instance, walk and talk or walk and carry something. This seems to be detrimental to their ability to maintain balance. We’re trying to see if we can use music to help improve some of the multi-task deficits that people with Parkinson’s experience.”

Dr. Lesley Brown
Dr. Lesley Brown, Associate Professor, Kinesiology, University of Lethbridge

In her small research study, 40 people with Parkinson’s participated in a walking program, 30 minutes a day, three times a week for 12 weeks, while listening to an iPod loaded with the type of music the person liked but carefully selected to match the individual’s walking tempo and rhythm. Participants’ walking abilities were assessed before and after the walking program.

The research data are still being collated but already show some promising results.

As expected, in the pre-test assessment, people with Parkinson’s walked more slowly while listening to music on an iPod than did people in the control group (those who didn’t have Parkinson’s).

However, after the 12-week walking program, “the participants with Parkinson’s were able to walk while listening to music without any detriment to their walking pace,” says Dr. Brown. “That’s exciting because it tells us that this multi-tasking deficit that Parkinson’s patients experience can be alleviated with training.”

Another interesting finding was that for people with Parkinson’s, the ability to walk while doing something that wasn’t movement-related – counting backwards – had also improved. “The hope is that this improvement might be extended to everyday dual-tasking scenarios,” says Dr. Brown. She theorizes that, with practice, participants had learned to distribute their attention to more than one task.

The findings point to the potential for physiotherapists to recommend walking to music as an enjoyable activity for people with Parkinson’s to add to their exercise regimen as an ongoing, alternate therapy for disease management.

Another segment of the study is measuring the participants’ ability to step over obstacles in their path. These results are not yet available.

In the meantime, Dr. Brown cautions against strapping on an iPod and heading to the mall. She stresses that “people need to walk to music on their iPods in a quiet place where they can monitor their own safety until they become comfortable walking to music.”

Dr. Brown’s study was conducted in Lethbridge and Halifax, in collaboration with Dr. George Turnbull, professor of physiotherapy at Dalhousie University and founder of the Maritime Parkinson Clinic. It is part of a large-scale research study centred at the University of Calgary with principal investigator, Dr. Bin Hu.

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Message from the editor

Welcome to the latest edition of E Parkinson Post!

We kick-off this issue with a focus on non-motor precursors of Parkinson’s. Research is showing increasingly that the non-motor symptoms can be just as debilitating for people with Parkinson’s and can have severe impacts on quality of life. We bring you up to date on some recently-published research on depression and REM sleep behaviour disorder and an ongoing Canadian study of loss of smell in Parkinson’s.

Since April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month, in this issue, you will also find out about the advocacy program outreach that coincides with the national advertising campaign we’re running on television and in print for a second year, under the themes: Nothing’s easy when your body turns against you. Everything’s harder when your body turns against you. You will see the posters, billboards and media stories of people living with Parkinson’s in your area some time soon. As well, you will find our new Progression of Parkinson’s disease Information Sheet along with our most recent Clinical Fellowship recipients.

Several stories in this issue link to our web site which has been revamped with a special April Welcome page, a new Creative Expressions section and the PSC Advocacy Café. And online registration is now open for SuperWalk for Parkinson’s 2009.

Comments, questions and story ideas are always welcome. You can send them to editor@parkinson.ca.

We hope you enjoy this issue.

Marjie Zacks
Editor

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