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June 9, 2023

Expo looks at joy for Parkinson’s

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Conservative estimates from 2018 indicate there are just under 81,000 people living with Parkinson’s in Australia making it the most common major movement disorder and second highest prevalence neurodegenerative condition with only dementia exceeding it in the number of deaths. On average, 37 new cases are diagnosed every day and it was estimated that 13,500 new cases would be diagnosed in 2018. In 2014 prevalence of Parkinson’s was higher than many cancers including breast cancer, colorectal, stomach, liver and pancreatic cancer, lymphoma and leukaemia, kidney and bladder, uterine, cervical, and ovarian, and lung cancer.

April is International Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month, and a group of local therapists, health professionals and people living with Parkinson’s have banded together to hold a Parkinson’s Awareness Expo on Thursday.

The event will showcase many of the activities that can be accessed to support both those with Parkinson’s and their carers.

One of the highlights of the expo will be the official launch of the moveit4parkinsons website designed to assist Parkinson’s patients and their carers in our region.

This website is a ‘One-Stop Shop’ for people with Parkinson’s to access information about health and wellbeing activities in the Northern Rivers.

For people with Parkinson’s in the Northern Rivers of NSW, access to a single source that provides information on physical exercise, health and wellbeing activities, as well as medical information about the disease, has been sadly lacking. The moveit4parkinsons website is one place where the clinical meets therapeutic meets fun.

The website is the brain child of Dr Bob Lodge, Consultant Physician, and Kerryn Meanwell, whose mother has Parkinson’s. Frustrated by the lack of information available when her mother was diagnosed, Kerryn knew there had to be a better way to help her mother maintain her confidence, health and independence for as long as possible.

‘This website is designed to be a great tool not only for those people with Parkinson’s, but for carers and families as well,’ says Kerryn. ‘We are looking for the moveit4parkinsons website to grow as more clinicians and health providers get on board to offer a broader range of activities for people with Parkinson’s.’

Research suggests that specific exercises have the potential to slow progression in Parkinson’s. These specific exercises help to slow the rate of deterioration of important cells and retrain the brain. Creating more efficient neural pathways plays an important role in maintaining balance and gait, improving coordination, strength and mobility, whilst restoring confidence.

‘It’s not just about being therapeutic,’ says Kerryn. ‘Joyful activities such as singing, laughter and art, have an integral role. We have a number of contacts on our website for those too.

‘Living in the moment is not just good for people with Parkinson’s, it’s great for everyone!’

The Parkinson’s Awareness Expo is on Thursday at the Ramada Hotel in Ballina from 10am to 12pm.

The web address for the new site is: www.moveit4parkinsons.com.au

*Deloitte Access Economics ‘Living with Parkinson’s disease: Challenges and positive steps for the future’

(UPDATE – the most recent unpublished research indicates that there may be more than 110,000 people living with Parkinson’s in Australia.)


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