Parkinson Expert To Present Updated Research Here June 12
"Living Well With Parkinson's" will be presented by world renowned neurologist and movement disorder specialist, and nationally recognized Parkinson's expert, Paul Nausieda, MD, and advanced practice nurse practitioner, specializing in neurology, Dacy Reimer. Together they have 60 years of combined knowledge and education.
The event will be held Thursday, June 15 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Riverside Club in Menominee. There will be registration, presentations, lunch, educational material, closing statement and questions and exhibits and vendors available until 3 p.m. Suggested donation is $5. Reservations are required by June 12 to Pat Ihler at 906-863-9445.
The event is sponsored in part by the Red Horse Parkinson Alliance, Inc. and the Marinette Menominee Area Parkinson Support Group.
Co-sponsors are ADRC of Marinette County, Atrium Post Acute Care of Menominee, Bay Area Medical Center & Aurora Bay Area Medical Group, BAMC-Mobility Clinic, Edward D. Jones-Joe Peacock, Gendron's of Coleman, Respite Care, State Farm Insurance-Tony Furton, The Harbor's Retirement Community, Thrivent Financial, U.P. Health, Home & Hospice Care, Walgreen's and Wellness Clinic.
Parkinson's is a progressive neurological disease that results from the gradual loss of brain cells that produce dopamine, a chemical that sends messages to the part of the brain that controls movement and coordination. As Parkinson's progresses, dopamine in the brain decreases, leaving a person unable to control movement normally.
The key motor symptoms of Parkinson's are tremor, slowness of movement (Bradykinesia), muscular rigidity or stiffness and postural instability (impaired balance and coordination).
Other symptoms may include pain, dementia or confusion fatigue, sleep disturbances, depression, constipation, cognitive changes, fear or anxiety and urinary problems. These symptoms can vary from person to person.
The average age of onset is 60 and approximately four percent of individuals are diagnosed before age 50. Parkinson's cannot be cured. However, researchers are making advances in understanding the disease, its causes and how to best treat it.
Patricia Gillaume Ihler is in charge of the Marinette Menominee Area Parkinson's Support Group. She announces the formation of the Red Horse Parkinson Alliance, Inc. which has become a reality because of the tireless work of local Parkinson Disease patients, their caregivers, loved ones, friends, physicians and local resource providers. The support group is one of the largest of its kind in Wisconsin and Upper Michigan.
Lorraine and Virgil Thomson of Coleman planted the seed and helped the support group until they were ready to spread their wings. Lorraine was a Parkinsonian and Virgil a caregiver.
Ihler's husband, John, a Parkinsonian for 20 years, sparked her activism because of his desire to promote education and awareness about the disease and to provide support and assistance to Parkinsonians. Thus, the Red Horse Parkinson Alliance, Inc. was formed as his legacy and gift to the community.
The mission is simply to be a free-standing non-profit organization which provides educational material and events, regular community support meetings, and to build community partnership to ensure the medical, emotional, and spiritual needs of Parkinson's patients in the tri-city area.
Parkinson Disease is a progressive movement disorder that affects 1.5 million individuals and over 10 million individuals worldwide. Over 20,000 Parkinson patients live in Wisconsin and over 30,000 in Michigan.
The group operates via tax deductible contributions and volunteer services. There is no regular funding. The 2015 educational event featuring Dr. Nausieda was attended by over 250 area persons. Clearly, the need is there.
Dr. Nausieda is a teacher, doctor, researchers and advocate. From the beginning of his medical training, Dr. Nausieda had a special interest in neurobiology, psychology, and the medical connection between the brain and behavior.
In the late 1960s, when a renewed interest in Parkinson disease was sparked by dopamine research, Dr. Nausieda knew that all his training had led him to this point, and he found his niche in neurology.
He earned his medical degree from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine in 1972 and completed his residency in neurology at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center. He spent the next four years doing research in Parkinson's at Michael Reese Hospital. "Levodopa had been approved in 1970. However, treatment involved medicating patients, with little attention given to side effects, drug interactions, or the actual effectiveness of the medications," Nausieda said.
In 1977, he returned to Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center where he served as associate professor, continued his research, and saw patients at one of the first Parkinson's clinics in the United States. He moved to Milwaukee in 1981 and continued his laboratory research and clinical studies of Parkinson disease.
"I already had an established patient base from Chicago and Milwaukee. I was teaching at the Medical College of Wisconsin and seeing patients at various hospital throughout Milwaukee," he recalls. Two years after moving to Milwaukee, Dr. Nausieda established the Wisconsin Parkinson Association (WPA), "I had spent years lecturing to physicians regarding the side effects of the medications they were prescribing," he says. "I started the WPA as a way to direct this information to patients instead."
As a nonprofit organization, the WPA was a way for Dr. Nausieda to advocate for patients. "The WPA was a prototype patient program. I took some flack from colleagues, and people thought it was reckless and crazy to try to educate patients on the nuances of treatment. For me it was simple - provide services to people looking for information and support - and I have based my entire professional life doing this."
He recognized that as a group, Parkinson's patients needed someone to put information together for them. The WPA was a way to educate and support patients, assist them in coping with Parkinson's, and empower them as informed participants in their own care. The WPA provided a united voice that could speak to the welfare of the patient. In his work with the WPA, he is most proud of the payback it has provided to the patient community.
In 1986 he made a decision to open a private practice. "I could have stayed in academics, sat through meetings, and served on committees, or I could focus on serving patients. I decided I'd take my chances with the patients," he quips.
As he nears retirement, Dr. Nausieda doesn't even consider this an option. "Knowledge regarding all aspects of Parkinson disease is better than it was, However, there is still a need to improve, and it is important that patients continue to have strong advocacy and up-to-date information."
He adds, "When it comes to Parkinson's I believe that we will ultimately find a way to reverse the disease and find a way to stimulate cellular repair."
Dr. Nausieda feels that the immediate future involves better ways to medically manage Parkinson's without the need for surgery. He is also encouraged by the value of a holistic approach to treatment. "You can't treat a disease if you don't look at the whole person, including diet, exercise, family life, stress, anxiety, and depression."
Dr. Nausieda also founded the Regional Parkinson Center in Milwaukee and has been medical director since it opened. Along with serving as a diagnostic, treatment, and rehabilitation resource for patients, the center also incorporates the Parkinson Research Institute. With advanced research capabilities, the nation's largest parkinson disease tissue bank and more experimental drug studies than any center in the United States, it is a unique and respected program that draws people from all over the country, as well as Europe and Asia.
"The Milwaukee community has been especially supportive of both the Regional Parkinson Center and the WPA, Dr. Nausieda added. "I am proud to be part of a community that cares enough to volunteer time and financial support to sustain these programs."
With 40 years of experience in the field of Parkinson disease, he lived up to Jean-Martin Charcot's ideal. From the beginning he has seen Parkinson's as more that the physical characteristics of a disease, and his observations have prompted him to address the overall welfare of patients with Parkinson disease.
Dr. Nausieda and his wife of 36 years, Dr. Evonne Winston, have two grown sons. As avid travelers, they have incorporated their interest in history and cooking to further enhance their travel experiences.
He concludes, saying, "My patients and their families have enriched my life in so many ways. They are a diverse group of people with many talents, from all walks of life, brought together by Parkinson's. We have been able to harness their energy, which has become the catalyst that allows us to continue serving others and to model programs to fit the needs of the community."
Reimer is a board-certified nurse practitioner, licensed to prescribe and treat in primary care and specialized in neurology and movement disorders. She has had more than 20 years experience in caring for individuals with Parkinson disease.
She practices at Lakeside Neurocare in Fond du Lac with sub-clinics in Oshkosh and Ripon. She is inpatient medical consultant to acute neurological conditions such as stroke and seizure at St. Agnes Hospital, Aurora Oshkosh and Mercy Medical Center Oshkosh. Her clinical practice specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of individuals with Parkinson Disease. Prior to joining Lakeside, she was a nurse practitioner at the Regional Parkinson Center in Milwaukee. During her 17 years with the Parkinson Center, she was a founding member of the Parkinson Research Institute (PRI), developing its Life Span Database and Brain Bank Procurement Program. She held the position of Education and Outreach Coordinator for the Wisconsin Parkinson Association and authored multiple manuscripts on PD. She is certified as a research coordinator by the Association of Clinical Research Professionals and has managed more than 30 pharmaceutical studies using experimental therapeutic agents; many approved for use, and will be discussed.
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