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Parkinson’s Disease– The Rhythm of Life

David Fitzgerald

Many people are troubled by such questions as


On Wednesday 20th June 2012 I was in the first patient empowerment day run by the recently formed ‘Move 4 Parkinsons’ Foundation.  It turned out to be an exhilarating day with nearly two hundred delegates, people with parkinsons (PWP) young and old, carers, family and friends.  They were there to enrich their lives through a day of education, empowerment and skills development for the active management of Parkinson’s disease (PD). They also wished to share their own journeys, provide support and encouragement to others.

‘Move 4 Parkinsons’ support group was set up by Margaret Mullarney, who herself has PD for a number of years. Her inspiration for this group was to educate, empower and inspire others to become more in control of their condition.  Margaret herself is an inspiration and indeed will gladly share her experiences of this condition with others.  The group philosophy is to deal with the multitude of other aspects associated with PD as well as the routine medical management options. Where better to hold this day than in the recently renovated and stunning Aviva Stadium where many inspirational people have plied their trade.

Parkinsons Disease Treatment

Margaret gave an introduction of the five key elements for a more fulfilling quality of life and outlined the importance of each when living with PD.  These include:

  • Medication awareness/medical support.
  • Nutrition.
  • Exercise.
  • Emotional well being/mindfulness.
  • Optional treatments.

The day began on a high note with keynote speaker Professor Bastiaan Bloem from the Parkinson’s centre in The Netherlands, who gave an energetic and enlightening lecture on multi-disciplinary management of PD. He discussed the network of experts they have in The Netherlands (about 20!) and the importance of embracing this support with patient participation in decision making. Their focus is for the medical team to be a ‘guide’ not a ‘God’.

Tom Isaacs who has PD and is founder of the ‘Cure Parkinson’s Trust’ was an equal match to this outstanding speaker. His wit and humour had us all in stitches and yet he brought across so many poignant points in coping with this condition.

The day proceeded with a panel discussion (of which I was a member) of professionals and PWP. Among the issues in the highly interactive debate were the ingredients for a better quality of life. This was thought provoking primarily due to the participation of many delegates who wished to share their experience and enlighten others.  We discussed the importance of regular exercise in preserving lifestyle, work commitments and leisure pursuits through

  • Active participation.
  • Commitment.
  • Goal setting.
  • Under the guidance of a NeuroPhysiotherapist working in this area

The day progressed with practical sessions including relaxation, yoga, musical therapy and mindfulness. It was great to see a workshop specifically dedicated to the wonderful and supportive carers who give so much of their time to others and yet are often overlooked.  There was also a dance session in which many participated and as one person said to me – It was great to see so many unusual and creative dance moves that made us all fit in and helped us relax even more.

What better way to finish the day than increasing one’s self-awareness with a session of mindfulness from the well known Padraig O’Morain.

Overall it was an extremely successful, high impact day and a fantastic achievement by Margaret and her team.  From the people I spoke to, they found it a very uplifting occasion, a positive experience and a group they will continue to support.  It gave hope to people who felt there was little and realisation that support is available. They are not alone.

(Neurological physiotherapy can offer great relief and comfort in the treatment of Parkinsons disease)

Move4Parkinsons are hoping to run ‘quality of life’ training courses and empower others to fulfill their potential and improve their quality of life. If this day was anything to go by it should not be missed. Keep a lookout on their website for these events at www.move4parkinsons.com

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