Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Parkinson's Global Community Conference

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This conference, which was held March 2-4 at the scenic Keystone (CO) Conference Center, was a huge success.  It was the first time that a conference of this magnitude has been held in the Denver area. or anywhere else as far as I know.  It was made possible by communication between organizers of the Parkinson's Symposium being held at the same time and place and Parkinson Association of the Rockies (PAR) board member, Barbara Mendel.

The conference featured internationally know Parkinson's doctors, scientists, and researchers speaking on topics of importance to the Parkinson's community of  people with Parkinson's (PWPs) and care partners in attendance. Those topics included updates on the latest research and medication developments, caring for caregivers, cognition and memory issues, deep brain stimulation therapy, and dealing with the challenges of life with PD. There were also interesting and helpful keynote presentations and panel discussions.  There was a great deal of emphasis on the ongoing need for patient participation in clinical research trials, information for which is easily and readily available online at

In the Denver area, we are fortunate to have many well-respected movement disorder neurologists and neurosurgeons, many of whom were speakers. The sessions held by these doctors focused on information aimed at helping the many patients and caregivers in attendance with improving their daily lives.

I appreciated a presentation by Helen and James Whitworth, co-authors of Caregiver's Guide to Lewy Body Dementia.  Jim created the Lewy Body Dementia Association after he lost his first wife to the disease.  Together, they are committed to helping people understand this disease, which is the second most prevalent form of dementia after Alzheimer's.  Since both types of dementia most often associated with Parkinson's are in the dementia with lewy bodies (DLB) category, this is a subject that anyone touched by PD needs to understand, including risk factors that are different from Alzheimer's.

We were also fortunate to have Dave Iverson, renowned producer of Parkinson's features including My Father, My Brother, & Me who is now a contributing editor for the Michael J. Fox Foundation.  Dave's personal experience, extensive knowledge, and engaging style added greatly to the conference.

Kudos to Barbara Mendel, Cheryl Siefert (PAR executive director), and Cheryl's dedicated staff for planning, organizing, and executing a rewarding experience for all who attended.

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