By Cheri Prince, Therapy Resource

Have you heard about it? There’s a spark, and it’s starting to catch fire! Last week’s workshops had over 30 participants in total — and this is just the beginning!

PDWELL came from a desire to do more to meet the needs of the Parkinson’s community in the Omaha metro area. As a Physical Therapist and Rehabilitation Director at a skilled nursing facility, I had the opportunity to develop a Parkinson’s program over the last six years. Through this experience, we identified a need for a place for Persons with Parkinson’s Disease (PwPD) to go for Parkinson’s-specific therapy, exercise classes, education and resources.

While there are Parkinson’s offerings in town, the services are fragmented, with most people attending classes at many different locations in the area in order to meet their needs and/or interests. The same issue exists for support groups. Many PwPD attend multiple groups in order to obtain all of the education and support they and their care partners are looking for.

In addition, many people don’t know where to go to obtain Parkinson’s-specific therapy services. They get an MD order for therapy but are frustrated by the non-specific services they may receive at a typical outpatient clinic. Based on the feedback from physicians and the PwPD in the community, the concept of PDWELL was born.

The three pillars of PDWELL include Exercise (skilled therapy and exercise classes), Education (patient, caregiver and professional) and Community (fostering a sense of community among the members). We are establishing PDWELL initially with a focus on the pillars of education and community.

Education:

PDWELL is offering an educational workshop based on the book Every Victory Counts, developed by the Davis Phinney Foundation. This is a nine-week workshop that focuses on living well with Parkinson’s. It’s being offered two times per week and is open to anyone with Parkinson’s, their caregivers or any other person who provides care to persons with PD.

We are getting the word out about PDWELL and the workshop through support groups, visiting PD-specific exercise classes in Omaha, as well as informing health care providers in the Parkinson’s community. Participants will be going through the interactive lessons on topics such as Parkinson’s symptoms, exercise and nutrition, assembling a wellness team, and navigating your Parkinson’s with your care partner.

Other educational workshops are being developed and will be both ongoing, like Every Victory Counts, as well as specific “boot camp” sessions for the newly diagnosed. We are planning other special events such as physician presentations and special topics of interest, such as Nutrition, Current Research in PD and pharmacology considerations.

Another component of education that PDWELL will provide is professional-level education. Currently, we have two CEU courses that have been developed and will be held in October and November in Omaha, Nebraska: Gait impairments and Parkinson’s Disease for PTs and PTAs, and Dual Tasking and Parkinson’s Disease for PTs, OTs and SLPs. In November, Practical Approaches to the Assessment and Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease will be offered in San Antonio, Texas, for PTs, PTAs, OTs and COTAs.

Community:

PDWELL is developing community in multiple ways. First of all, our educational offerings will bring a sense of community through learning and sharing experiences. The Omaha-area Parkinson’s community will be invited to “Give a Gift to Themselves” in December as we gather together to prepare Aware in Care kits from the Parkinson’s Foundation. These kits are designed to help ensure preparation in the event of a medical need. We are currently planning social outings and non-educational gatherings such as a ping-pong tournament as well as intergenerational offerings based around exercise and healthy living, such as cooking foods that are “brain rich” for Parkinson’s. We are reaching out into the community to bring in resources that will enrich their lives while they share the knowledge and passion they have for their hobbies/recreational activities.

PDWELL is sponsoring local Parkinson’s events. On Sept. 29, we sponsored Walk the Park for Parkinson’s, which is a 5K and fun run/walk for Parkinson’s Nebraska. We also provided educational support during the recent Nebraska Medicine 2019 Patient and Caregiver Symposium held on Oct. 14.

Cheri and her daughters at our PDWELL Booth at the Parkinson’s Walk in NE

PDWELL is also participating nationally with Parkinson’s Foundation through hosting viewing parties for their 2019-2020 Expert Briefing series on topics such as “Coping with Dementia for Care Partners” as well as “Optimal Exercise Strategies for Stability, Stamina and Strength.” As an “Aware in Care Kit Ambassador,” I will be educating the Parkinson’s community in Nebraska on the benefit of utilizing an Aware in Care Kit for every inpatient stay. We are on the planning committee both for Moving Day Omaha — a walk for Parkinson’s through the Parkinson’s Foundation — and the 2020 Victory Summit from the Davis Phinney Foundation.

In addition to these PD-focused events, I have had the opportunity to work closely with some of our local post-acute care facilities to further develop Parkinson’s programs and provide input and support with patients.

One of our PDWELL Workshops in Omaha being led by Cheri

I could not be more excited to be a part of an organization that supports building programs like PDWELL, which can lead to life-changing impact! I am so blessed to have the opportunity to serve the Parkinson’s community here in the Omaha metro and beyond!

Note: If you would like more information on interrupting the course of Parkinson’s disease in your community, please reach out to Cheri Prince, Therapy Resource, at ChePrince@ensignservices.net. Cheri is also offering upcoming courses through www.EnsignTherapy.com.