In partnership with VA, the Parkinson’s Foundation will host a webinar on Thursday, April 28, to discuss the impact Parkinson’s disease (PD) has on Veterans’ mental health.
VA has established six Parkinson’s Disease Research, Education, and Clinical Centers (PADRECCs) to provide clinical care, education and research to improve the health and quality of life for Veterans with PD. VA also operates more than 50 Consortium Centers, which offer specialized PD and movement disorder care to Veterans unable to travel to a PADRECC.
Veteran caregivers and their families can also find assistance online through VA’s virtual support groups and educational resources. The partnership between VA and the Parkinson’s Foundation became final in 2020. It adds to the many resources and services available for Veterans with PD.
VA estimates that approximately 110,000 Veterans are diagnosed with PD. The disease is a disorder of the central nervous system that affects the movement of muscles, such as tremors, poor balance, and nonmotor symptoms impacting mental health, cognition and sleep.
Medication and exercise can help manage symptoms
According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, symptoms can develop slowly over years. Although there is currently no cure for PD, certain measures, such as medication and physical exercise, can help manage the symptoms.
Vietnam Veteran and webinar presenter, Dr. Patrick Welch, started Parkinson’s boxing. The exercise program helps reduce and delay symptoms of PD. Welch started the program after hearing from a Parkinson’s Foundation representative about the benefits of these fitness classes.
At the time, his legs were deteriorating and he needed to use a walker. After only six months, Dr. Welch no longer needed knee braces and found improvement in his balance and strengthened his muscles.
“The program has gotten me back into a regular exercise routine and stimulated me to get back to doing things that can improve the quality of my life,” Dr. Welch said.
Webinar to include information on VA research
In addition to sharing the importance of recreational activities at the webinar, Dr. Welch will discuss research completed by VA and the Parkinson’s Foundation, plus their contributions to improving the care and well-being of Veterans with PD.
During the webinar, participants will hear from experts from VA and the Parkinson’s Foundation. They will share how to recognize mental health symptoms and where to go for support and treatment. They will learn how to start the conversation with a health care provider. They’ll also learn the importance of keeping an open dialogue with your health care team.
Dr. Welch hopes participants become more aware of the issues with PD and that Veterans diagnosed with the disease maintain a positive attitude because of the resources and support services from VA and the Parkinson’s Foundation.
For more information about how the Parkinson’s Foundation improves care and advances research toward a cure, visit https://www.parkinson.org/. For Veteran-specific information on living with PD, visit https://www.parkinson.org/Veterans.
Register for the upcoming webinar here:
To read how you can get involved during Parkinson’s Awareness Month, visit Parkinson.org/Awareness.
VA’s National Center for Healthcare Advancement and Partnerships (HAP) manages multiple partnerships like the one between VA and the Parkinson’s Foundation.
Learn more about HAP’s work.