Finding Support & Information
While the diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease (PD) may be frightening, it is important to remember support and interventions are available right here in Naples, Florida both for those diagnosed with this disease and those family members who now find themselves in the role of Care Partner. Many people are familiar with Parkinson’s disease, which affects one million Americans, with 60,000 new diagnoses each year. But there are several other neurodegenerative disorders that have Parkinson’s like symptoms called A-typical Parkinson’s or Parkinsonism that are important to be aware of.
Multi-System Atrophy (MSA) is one of those disorders and affects potentially 15,000 to 50,000 people. Last week I had the honor of speaking at the MSA annual conference in Orlando, Florida. People with MSA and care partners from the US and South American attended this inspirational seminar that also featured prominent neurologists who specialize in movement disorders.
Another type of Parkinsonism is Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP), which affects at least 20,000 people, and Corticobasal Degeneration (CBD) affects an estimated 2,000-3,000 people in the United States, although only 500-700 are actually diagnosed.
These a-typical diseases are often mistaken for PD because the symptoms are similar. However, the treatment and course of the illness is quite different and needs to be diagnosed by a physician who is a Movement Disorder Specialist.
Fortunately, there are two non-profit groups in Naples that offer services for PD as well as MSA, PSP and CBD and other neurological issues.
The Parkinson’s Association of Southwest Florida offers many support groups and classes for people with neurodegenerative disorders as well as their care partners. There is a support group offered every day of the week and they include classes in movement, speech therapy, and music therapy.
The Naples Players (TNP) at the Sugden Theatre on 5th Avenue in Naples also provides services for people with these disorders and their care partners. TNP has a Wellness Program that has specific improvisation classes for people with these conditions and their care partners.
There is growing research on the therapeutic benefits of Improvisational Theatre Games for people with PD. The neurology department of Northwestern University has partnered with Second City since 2015 researching the benefits of teaching improv to people with PD and their caregivers. Their research showed that improvisational theatre games help to cultivate focus, improve communication, and promote well- being.