In January, a Parkinson Disease Support Group will begin meeting monthly at Riverside Medical Center.
It will meet from 2-4 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month in Maasch Room A of the 902 Building, on the hospital’s campus.
The first meeting will be on Wednesday, Jan. 21.
“The reason they are doing it is because there is a support group in Stevens Point and a support group in the Fox Valley and nothing in between,” said Jerry Otte, director of outreach and education at the Wisconsin Parkinson Association in Milwaukee.
ThedaCare and RMC saw a need to start a local support group.
The discussion about doing so began approximately six months ago.
Involved in the discussion were Jill Navin and Diane Phelan, who are both physical therapy assistants at RMC.
Initially, they will be facilitators of the support group.
Navin said there was a large interest to start a group here. Those who were involved in the LSVT BIG program were surveyed.
The LSVT BIG treatment uses clinically proven methods to improve movement in those who have Parkinson disease.
Parkinson disease is a slowly progressive neurodegenerative disorder with symptoms that include tremors, slowness of movement, stiffness of the limbs and trunk, and impaired balance.
People with Parkinson’s may also experience difficulty with writing, depression and speech.
Other concerns may include sleep disturbances, mood issues, fatigue and constipation.
The average age of onset is 60. Between 5 and 10 percent are under age 40 when they are diagnosed.
Between 1 and 2 million Americans have the disease, and there are 60,000 new diagnoses each year.
Otte said more than 20,000 people in Wisconsin have Parkinson’s.
“There’s not a cure for it,” he said, “but there are treatments for it that can help.”
Each person who has the disease is affected differently.
Phelan said the support group will help people learn from others about how to cope with it.
The Parkinson Disease Support Group will be open to those living with the disease and also to their care partners.
Registration is encouraged by visiting www.thedacare.org or calling 715-258-1119.
Plans call for the first meeting to be about sharing and planning.
Those who attend will help choose the topics and speakers for future meetings.
The latest treatment options, new medications, research, exercise, nutrition, psychology and other health issues are expected to be discussed during the year.
The support group meetings will be a way for people to share similar experiences, situations, problems and solutions and to also learn more about the disease.
For more information, contact Navin at 715-258-1161 or Phelan at 715-258-1167.