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Article from August 2017 E-Newsletter

Are you interested in participating in a Parkinson’s disease (PD) clinical trial, but not sure what to expect? Clinical research can seem intimidating, but the process is designed to protect people willing to help discover treatments. In fact for many people, the experience of participating in a clinical trial is very rewarding.

While each trial is different, every trial undergoes a rigorous process to design the study. Participants in early Phase I trials can typically expect to have a health assessment conducted before the trial, regular checkups with physicians and nurses and a careful assessment after the trial is completed.

Researchers actively work to accommodate the needs of their patients. At my clinic, we provide transportation to and from visits, and for many trials, participants are paid for their participation. During one clinical trial I worked on, the participants needed to stay at our clinic for a few weeks for observation, and we even made special arrangements for one participant’s dog to accompany him. The needs of our participants come first, and we work hard to make sure they feel comfortable and supported throughout the clinical trial process.

Volunteers experience great satisfaction knowing they play a key role in advancing medical science that may help people live longer, better lives. Despite this fact, less than 10 percent of Americans enroll in clinical trials. Volunteers like you are critical to help us continue to bring innovative treatments to PD patients around the world.

Article written by David Wyatt, MD, Vice President, Medical Affairs Miami Clinic | inVentiv Health

Article from July 2017 E-Newsletter

So, you found yourself in an acute care facility, maybe a hospital or rehabilitation center, and it’s finally time to go home. You are excited but also a little bit anxious about the move. Questions run through your mind like…Is the house clean? Has the laundry been done? Is there enough food in the kitchen? Oh, and what about my needs? That’s right! You will have a new set of needs as well and all too often they are not thought about until the moment you arrive home.

With attentive planning, while you are at the acute care facility, you can have a smooth transition back to your home. What kind of planning you ask? Well, it starts the minute you arrive at the facility. As you meet the many health care professionals caring for you, ask them what their goals are for you. Physical therapy, occupational therapy, nursing and dietary will all have specific goals for you and they can help you develop goals for when you return home. Be engaged in your care. Will you need a cane, walker or a wheelchair? Do you have stairs or a single step into your home? Let them know and write it down. How about a grabber to pick up things off the floor? Is there a wound to take care of or blood pressure to monitor? Has your medication changed? All these answers create a new set of needs for you upon your return home.

No need to start worrying. There are professionals to help you with a smooth transition to home and many times they are available to you at no additional cost. You meet them during your stay at the facility. They are referred to as your Social Worker, Case Manager or Discharge Planner. They are responsible for assisting in your smooth transition to home through engagement of other healthcare professionals who will oversee your care once you arrive home. They are usually well versed in the allowances and limitations of your insurance. It’s important to speak with them early in your stay so you will receive all that is entitled to you through your policy. Remember, they are not the decision makers when it comes to insurance, they can only relay what information they are given. The Social Worker also makes arrangements for a wheelchair or other equipment you will need and will call in a field representative from a home care agency. This individual is responsible for sending the skilled services to your home (nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, etc.) to follow up on those goals you learned earlier. The extent of the skilled services you can have is directed by your insurance carrier. It would be prudent on your part to call your insurance company and learn how much or how little your carrier allows for in home care BEFORE you actually need it. The answers may surprise you.

Once you leave the facility, the first 24 hours at home are for you to manage. Be sure to have all the necessary phone numbers in case you need to follow up. Ask for the numbers of the home care agency, the DME company (equipment), the facility’s after hours number, and a few of your caring friends. Try not to navigate this period on your own. Remember, you have gone through some changes and it won’t be everything as you remember. Having help can make the transition go better than expected and less stressful. If you feel you need additional help, there are plenty of companion and home care agencies available. You can start your search by calling the home care agency for a recommendation. If you have a specific need and the first company can’t meet it, try another one. Remember, the focus is on you and your successful recovery. It is your choice. You will be comfortably in control of your health.

Article written by Karen Altonen, Director of Client Services | Hospital Without Walls

Article from June 2017 E-Newsletter

Do you take your Parkinson’s disease (PD) medication every day, support others living with the disease and stay up-to-date on the latest news, but still wish you could do more to combat the disease? Think about participating in a clinical trial. Clinical trials have revolutionized PD treatments, giving us breakthroughs such as Levodopa and deep brain stimulation, dramatically improving patients’ lives.

A clinical trial is a study in which participants receive a specific treatment to assess if it is beneficial to patients. Studies in PD might test a new medication to treat symptoms or slow the progression of the disease, or test new uses for older medications, including medications approved for other diseases.

Clinical trials in people typically involve four phases. In Phase I, or early stage research, scientists evaluate the safety, dosage and any side effects of the investigational medication. Early stage research in PD previously tested a small group of healthy volunteers without the disease. More recently, it has expanded to include those living with PD, too – making these patients the first to receive promising experimental treatments. For PD patients, this is significant because it means therapies can move quicker through the development process, providing faster access to innovative treatments.

Research is vital to discovering new PD treatments – and someday a cure – to help today’s patients and future generations. Right here in Florida, we’re working on important early stage PD research to find tomorrow’s treatment breakthroughs. You can play an important role.

Article written by David Wyatt, MD, Vice President, Medical Affairs Miami Clinic | inVentiv Health

Article from May 2017 E-Newsletter

Aquatic Therapy can be very beneficial to those individuals living with Parkinson’s disease (PD). For many patients, aquatic therapy can be an advantageous way to treat many symptoms of Parkinson’s including: gait and balance impairments, muscle weakness, rigidity, and muscle and joint pain. The pool provides an environment where a patient can exercise without a fear of falling.

Many people with Parkinson’s are referred to physical therapy due to balance deficits. A fear of falling can make a person’s balance even worse. Exercising and challenging one’s balance in the water, reduces the risk for falls and eliminates patient’s fears of falling while doing exercise. Furthermore, forces of turbulence in the water challenge balance and coordination by forcing people to engage their core muscles. Strengthening the core muscles in this way can help to improve the flexed posture often seen in PD patients. The turbulence also facilitates central stabilization to occur prior to movement, which is essential for a correct gait pattern and normal reciprocal arm movement with gait.

Two other common symptoms in Parkinson’s are tremors and rigidity or decreased flexibility. The buoyancy of the water, along with the therapeutic warmth of the water decreases muscle activity, which leads to relaxation, which could decrease tremors and improve flexibility. In addition, the buoyancy of the water diminishes the effects of gravity helping decrease pain. Many patients with Parkinson’s’ suffer from low back pain most likely due to the rigidity in their trunks as well as flexed forward posture. The bradykinesia or slowness of movement that impedes many Parkinson’s patients can also be addressed successfully in the water. The water allows patients to make higher amplitude movements which are close to “normal” movements.

Article written by Erica Leiva, DPT, Outpatient Therapy Team Leader and Francine Wade, PTA, Certified Aquatic Specialist | HealthSouth Sunrise Outpatient Center

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