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Friday, June 12, 2015

Parkinson Disease seminar held in Pincher Creek

Brian Treadwell of Parkinson Alberta (Lethbridge)
Chris Davis

Lethbridge-based Brian Treadwell is the Client Services Coordinator/Event and Volunteer Coordinator at the Parkinson Alberta (PA) Lethbridge office. A retired announcer with a long history in radio and public events he has a talent for public speaking that was obvious during his Parkinson presentation in Pincher Creek on June 5.  Attendance was almost nonexistent, but the presentation was very informative.


Treadwell explained that Parkinson disease has been a recorded human condition for a very long time. "Ancient times described it. There are pictographs of people shaking."

"In 1817 (surgeon) James Parkinson best described it as 'shaking palsies'. Parkinson has the disease named because of him. Not because he has Parkinson disease."

PD is a chronic progressive neurodegenerative disorder.

Treadwell said that approximately 100,000 people and Canada and between 8,000 and 9,000 people in Alberta are afflicted with PD.

"When a populace gets older, we know that Parkinson Disease, along with all neurological disorders will rise."

"There are strategies and tools we can use. At PA we help support those that are living with Parkinson Disease live the best that they can."

"Well it's very clear that while there are common symptoms that define Parkinson Disease, not everyone has the same symptoms, the same severity, the same depression, or the same medications."

"I call it a designer disease. Because it does whatever it wants with your body."

"There are two places in Alberta to get a diagnosis, Edmonton and Foothills Medical Centre Calgary. It's basically a clinical diagnosis, it's done by a movement disorders neurologist. They have had probably 7 - 10 years of extra training past the General Practitioner degree to get to where they are to make this totally clinical diagnosis." Treadwell said there is currently a close to 2-year waiting list in Alberta to see a neurologist. "The bottom line is, we need more neurologists."



Four primary PD symptoms (TRAP):

  • Tremor: Shaking of limb (usually hand) while at rest
  • Rigidity: Muscle stiffness and resistance to movement
  • Akinesia/bradykinesia: see above
  • Postural instability
"It will start off on one side of the body, and will slowly progress to both sides."

Main motor features: slowness of movement (bradykinesia), tremors, rigidity, postural instability.

Non-motor features: constipation, low blood pressure when standing up, urinary urgency, sexual dysfunction, temperature regulation problems, discomfort/pain.

"It's not the Parkinson's that kills you. The number one thing that kills Parkinson people is pneumonia." Treadwell said falls are also a serious issue for people with the disease.

"How to trick the brain to get moving again... that's an interesting one - We have found music helped immensely."

"It's important when talking with someone with Parkinson Disease, you can't assume anything. You ask them how they're doing today, and let them answer you."

"One of the big things is fatigue. People have their good days and their bad days, and fatigue will really get them."

"The big one: What causes Parkinson Disease - the bottom line is we don't know."  However, it is known that altered levels of dopamine plays a major role in symptoms. "In Parkinson Disease, dopamine isn't there. Parkinson Disease increases as your dopamine decreases." The lack of dopamine means that it is difficult 'to find your happy place'.  Current thinking is that PD results from a complex combination of genetic factors that play a role in dopamine cell function, and toxins that may increase the risk of PD (but are not considered to be causal).

Walking helps retain muscle function and tone. "Vigorous walking, that will help."

Treadwell said a definite Parkinson diagnosis can only be made by conducting an autopsy.

It is believed that 95% of all PD cases are sporadic, not inherited.

20% of people diagnosed are under 50.

Treadwell talked about medications and surgery. He explained their side effects, risks, and benefits. He also explained the benefits of having a medic alert bracelet or alert cards you can hand out. Even in a hospital having information available that is specific to your own treatment is important rather than the blanket statement of 'I have Parkinson Disease', because there are so many different ways it affects people, including treatments, drugs, and interactions. "If you go to Calgary, they may not know your regime." Parkinson Alberta gives out free information kits to Parkinson sufferers provided by the National Parkinson Foundation. "We've got it for Parkinson's, but I'm sure a lot of other diseases could use something like that."

Those taking medication to treat PD symptoms suffer from a number of possible side effects including postural hypotension (low blood pressure when changing positions), involuntary abnormal movements and motor skill fluctuations, hallucinations, excessive daytime sleepiness, and compulsive behaviours (ie gambling, sexual, buying, eating).
Treadwell runs therapy programs out of the Lethbridge office for people in the region who have PD, including rhythmic drumming and Nordic walking. He's looking to add music therapy to the list. "I'm trying to expand out to here," he said. There are support groups in Lethbridge, Raymond, and Taber, and a Tele-Support group meets on the third Thursday of every month from 10:00 to 11:00 am (call 1-800-561-1911 for information or to register).

Parkinson Alberta's Lethbridge office is located at 1254 - 3rd Avenue South, and via telephone at 403-317-7710.

Related links:
Parkinson Alberta website
Parkinson Alberta on Facebook
Parkinson Alberta on Twitter

Upcoming Therapeutic drumming events in Lethbridge
Lethbridge area support groups


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