Kicking off Parkinson’s Awareness Month, the Annual Parkinson Symposium is slated to take place April 8 at the Hyatt Regency Rochester.
Each year the National Parkinson Foundation Center for Excellence at the University of Rochester provides care to approximately 1,000 individuals affected by Parkinson’s disease.
“The annual PD symposium exemplifies our Center of Excellence commitment, working along with our community-based agencies to support people with PD and their care partners, while providing care and research to provide best practices for the care of patients with PD and helping to discover new treatments,” said Irene Richard, director of the Movement Disorders Fellowship Program at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.
“We are one of the top movement disorders centers in the country, known for excellence in research, education of medical professionals and specialty clinical care,” Richard said. “We were one of five university centers in the world selected to receive funding to train future PD experts through the Michael J. Fox Foundation Edmond J. Safra Movement Disorders Fellowship Award.”
The symposium runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. with registration beginning at 8:15 a.m. This year’s theme is “Living Your Best Life.” The event will have three speakers: Ray Dorsey, director of the Center for Human Experimental Therapeutics at UR; Lisa Shulman, division director of Movement Disorders at the University of Maryland; and Heather Zwickey, dean of research and graduate studies at the National University of Natural Medicine in Oregon.
The emcee of the event is Yvonne Hylton, who has Parkinson’s disease and is an active member of the National Parkinson’s Foundation of Greater Rochester.
“When I was first diagnosed in August of 2007, I was told to ‘keep living my life,’” Hylton said. “I think for people diagnosed today, the message is, ‘keep living your life, and that must include exercise.’ While treatment for Parkinson’s almost always involves medications, and may include advanced therapies such as deep brain stimulation, the effect of exercise (at least 2.5 hours per week) is indisputable.”
Opening and closing remarks are to be made by Dennis Whitney, president of National Parkinson’s Foundation of Greater Rochester.
“We have a long-standing commitment to provide supportive and educational services to the community of Rochester and surrounding regions,”URMC’s Richard said. “This is primarily a partnership between the NPF Center of Excellence, which focuses on research and patient care, and the NPF Greater Rochester Chapter, which provides a variety of PD support groups, monthly educational series and other outreach efforts.”
Community members should be aware of the disease’s effects, Hylton said.
“(PD) is an insidious disease, developing more or less slowly over time, revealing itself by tremors, slowing and stiffening movements, soft voice and masked facial expressions,” she said. “If a 911 operator gets a call that is barely audible, it might be PD. When you see someone struggling with zippers, buttons, closures, forks, anything requiring fine motor coordination, have patience. It might be PD.
“While PD afflicts individuals, it affects the community.”
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