April 23, 2019

Fifth Year of Parkinson’s Symposium Marks Continued Growth

By Amy Widner

The fifth annual event was held April 7 in the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute at UAMS, with nearly 200 people in attendance.

“Some people have been saying, ‘I’ve been to every one since the beginning.’ People are taking big group photos together,” said Erika Petersen, M.D., the event’s organizer and director of Functional and Restorative Neurosurgery at UAMS. “It almost feels like a reunion at this point, and it’s a fun atmosphere for sharing the latest research, mingling with experts, and recapping the best tips for keeping active, healthy, and making the most out of life with Parkinson’s.”

Patients in row on panel

A patient-led discussion panel was one of the highlights of the symposium.

Topics included:

  • The latest gait research, Tuhin Virmani, M.D., Ph.D.
  • Fall prevention and home safety, Mary Margaret Latham, PT, and Hylan Pickett
  • Managing Nutrition, Jessica Turker, RD
  • Advance Directives, Leah Eisenberg, J.D.
  • A patient-experiences panel
  • A FAQ panel with the experts
Dr. Vrimani at podium

UAMS neurologist Tuhin Virmani, M.D., Ph.D., gives an update on his latest gait research.

Participants took a break from presentations to mingle with representatives of UAMS services, participate in a chair yoga demonstration from the UAMS Institute on Aging’s Ottenheimer Fitness Center (for ages 50-plus), and to have their frequently asked questions answered by an expert panel.

Attendees included patients, caregivers, health care professionals, and others with an interest in Parkinson’s disease and Parkinson’s-plus syndromes.

Crowd shot around booths

Representatives of UAMS services talk to attendees.

Socializing, exercising and learning about self-care are all part of the multidisciplinary approach to treating Parkinson’s at the Movement Disorders Clinic at UAMS.

“Our movement disorders program is unique in the state. We have a comprehensive program where everything is under one roof — neurologists, neurosurgeons, neuropsychologists, physical therapists, researchers, speech-language pathologists and other specialists,” Petersen said. “We wanted to provide patients with a way to learn about everything we are working on and what’s new with Parkinson’s research and treatment, while building community at the same time.”

Doctor talking to woman

UAMS neurologist Rohit Dhall, M.D., talks with an attendee during a break between sessions.

Forty people attended the first Parkinson’s Forum in 2014.

Movement disorders include essential tremor, Huntington’s disease, ataxia, Tourette’s syndrome and other conditions that cause tremors, involuntary movements and difficulty walking.

For more information or to join a list to receive updates about future Parkinson’s events, call 501-686-5270.