Parkinson’s Conference offers latest info, hope

TUESDAY, AUG. 13, 2013

A September conference about Parkinson’s disease aims to deliver up-to-date information about the degenerative brain disorder, including advances in research, medication and therapies and tips for living with the chronic disease.

For conference organizer Judi Sloane, who has lived with Parkinson’s for 10 years, it’s a chance to help connect people who have the disease – and their caregivers and medical providers – with a vital resource: information.

“I understand very well that to have hope, you have to have information,” said Sloane, 69, a Spokane resident who serves on the board of the Northwest Parkinson’s Foundation. The Seattle-based foundation is working with the Spokane Parkinson’s Resource Center to put on the conference.

While the regional foundation has organized similar conferences on the West Side for eight years, few Eastern Washington residents have been able to attend, Sloane said. The first Inland Northwest Hope for Parkinson’s Conference, held last year at the Northern Quest Resort and Casino, drew nearly 250 people, including Idaho and Montana residents.

Speakers at the Sept. 7 conference will include:

• Dr. Anthony Santiago, a former Spokane neurologist and research director at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix who now works in the University of Minnesota Medical Center’s neurology clinic.

• Dr. Laurie Mischley, a Seattle naturopathic physician who specializes in Parkinson’s.

• Peter Dunlap-Shohl, a humorist and former cartoonist for the Anchorage Daily News who blogs about life with Parkinson’s.

A panel discussion will address strategies for getting the most benefit out of Parkinson’s drugs. An instructor from Dance for PD, an international program in which professional dancers instruct people with Parkinson’s, will give a demonstration. Spokane’s Tremble Clefs, a singing group of Parkinson’s patients, will perform.

Fatigue is a common symptom of Parkinson’s, while its main “motor” symptoms include tremors, slowness of movement, stiffness in the arms and trunk and impaired balance and coordination.

The conference provides direct access to experts in the field, letting patients ask questions and take notes, caregivers at their side.

“It brings enlightenment and courage and strength and hope,” Sloane said.

Added her husband, James Sloane, who helped organize June’s Festival of Speed at the Spokane County Raceway, with proceeds to help pay for the conference: “And a sense of the fact that you’re a part of a community that’s dealing with this problem.”

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