Parkinson disease is a neurodegenerative disease caused by the death of neurons that produce dopamine, a chemical that carries signals between the nerves in the brain and controls movement. It affects over 100,000 Canadians, according to Parkinson Canada, and over 13,300 British Columbians, according to the Parkinson Society of BC.
Todd Wallace, a Salmo resident who works in Castlegar, is one of those British Columbians. Wallace was diganosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD) three years ago and is 52 years old.
Asked how the disease affects him in his day to day, he said, “[I’m] tired, that’s one of the main things. Not a lot of energy by the end of the day by the time I’ve finished working all day. And shaking. My left arm shakes lots and I kind of walk with a bit of a shuffle with my left side.”
Despite the disease slowing him down a little, Wallace still plans to golf this year and do other things he’d normally do. He also sometimes attends a PD exercise group in Trail that meets once a week and is facilitated by physiotherapist Joanne Robbins.
Wallace also co-facilitates a support group in Nelson that’s run in partnership with the Parkinson Society of BC. The group meets monthly and anyone interested in joining the group can contact Wallace at 250-608-2865 or Patti Leggett at 250-367-9258.
All of the Parkinson Society of BC’s support groups are volunteer run, with the society providing resources. Alicia Wrobel, manager of marketing and communications for the society, says, “We are always open to anyone who may want to start [a support group] in a particular area.”
For Parkinson Awareness Month, the society invites individuals to participate in its This is Parkinson’s campaign. The society produced a series of posters featuring individuals with PD who are different ages, genders and ethnicity to show that the disease can affect anyone. The posters are available for download at parkinson.bc.ca/how-to-help/this-is-parkinsons and can be displayed in BC communities to help raise awareness. There’s also an option to request a printed poster by mail for those who don’t have access to a printer.
The Parkinson Society of BC will also be offering a workshop to address the communications and swallowing challenges faced by those with PD in Castlegar on Friday, June 3. The workshop will be held at the Sandman Hotel from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and should be registered for in advance at parkinson.bc.ca/events/education-events.
For more information on the services provided by the Parkinson Society of BC visit their website or call 1-800-668-3330.
For their part, Parkinson Canada is offering free webinars in April. The first, Voice and communications therapies in Parkinson’s disease: Evidence, timing and techniques, is an English language webinar on Friday, April 15 from 9 a.m. to noon. Visit meetview.com/parkinson20160415 to register in advance.
The second is a French language webinar that will take place on Thursday, April 28 from 3:30 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. French speakers can visit lereseauaidant.ca to register.