March 31, 2019 – Parkinson’s Weekly Update

This is a recap of the most interesting news and discussions related to Parkinson’s Disease this past week.

Blame it on the Parkinson'sWe start by looking ahead to Parkinson’s Disease Awareness which starts on Monday by revisiting the funniest (and most relatable) Parkinson’s Disease awareness video of all time. We then realize that we may be personally too aware of PD, so we take a look at awareness months for other diseases and health issues. Next up we try to avoid the big gun debate while reporting on an intriguing case study of “gun therapy” for Parkinson’s; a hip-hop dance demonstration inspires one of the dancers to investigate repurposing a wearable designed for entertainment to help improve gait in PD patients; Fox Foundation commits $1 million to help a company build a PET tracer that can better map brain inflammation for future clinical trials; dolphins are developing Alzheimer’s in Florida; milk may increase Parkinson’s risk; dance therapy in Memphis; and rethinking music therapy.

    1. Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month starts Monday, April 1. As April 1 is traditionally a day of laughs, I propose kicking off your PD awareness experience with the best and funniest (and most relatable) Parkinson’s Disease awareness video of all time, Mitch Faile’s “Blame it on the Parkinson’s”: https://parkinson.fit/blame-it-on-the-parkinsons/
    2. Who decides which disease or cause can lay claim to a month as its’ month of awareness? How did Parkinson’s Disease get April? It’s not that I don’t believe that PD deserves an awareness month, or that April doesn’t work for me. My issue is that I feel like a hypocrite. I am so aware of Parkinson’s Disease, that I have been completely unaware of awareness months for any other diseases or causes in the past year. Therefore, I think there is no better way for those of us with PD to start Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month than to raise our awareness of other diseases and health concerns. Take this opportunity to learn about challenges that others are facing; learn about prevention and health screening for other health ailments; and consider also supporting organizations that devote themselves to worthwhile causes…we’ve collected a list of other awareness months here: https://parkinson.fit/parkinsons-awareness-month-is-a-time-to-look-outward-not-inward/
    3. Please put aside any preconceived thoughts on guns…whether you are pro “gun rights” or pro “gun control”, David Smith’s Parkinson’s Disease “gun therapy” is one of the most intriguing and inspirational PD stories of recent weeks. Diagnosed with Parkinson’s 8 years ago, David found nothing that would help with his tremors. He had always enjoyed shooting at the gun range, and would shoot at least every other week, sometimes more frequently. He realized that the activity was calming for his tremors, so he decided to do it more frequently. Now, he is in the big leagues…a professional shooter who has been chosen to be on the US team at the IPSC Rifle World Championship in Sweden this fall: https://parkinson.fit/forums/topic/competitive-shooter-uses-gun-therapy-to-help-manage-parkinsons/
    4. Two college professors in Buffalo (New York) collaborated to create a wearable device called Electroskip that creates music in response to dance and movement. The anticipated applications for the device were in arts and entertainment. To help demonstrate the device for a TEDx Talk, they enlisted the help of a hip-hop dance crew from their university. One of the dancers was in the process of completing a PhD in Physical Therapy, and recognized that the device may be useful for gait training improvements in Parkinson’s Disease. The company is now pivoting Electroskip toward more of a medical direction, and are currently seeking FDA approval as a medical device that helps people with walking disabilities. https://parkinson.fit/forums/topic/electroskip-device-straps-to-shoe-and-uses-auditory-cues-to-improve-gait/
    5. Inflazome received a grant of more than $1 million from the Michael J. Fox Foundation to fund the development of an NLRP3-specific Positron Emission Tomography (PET) tracer that allows non-invasive imaging of inflammasome-driven brain inflammation. Inflazome focuses on developing ways of blocking inflammasome signaling to eliminate unwanted inflammation. The NLPR3 inflammasome is believed to drive chronic inflammation linked to many neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson’s Disease. The PET tracer is designed to determine what dosages are needed for clinical trials. More details:  https://www.biospace.com/article/inflazome-funding-from-the-michael-j-fox-foundation-underlines-foundation-involvement-in-research/
    6. A long-term research study in Sweden concluded that people who drink 40ml (1.3oz) or more of milk per day were about 30% more likely to develop Parkinson’s Disease. By contrast, yogurt or soured milk was not found to cause any increased or decreased risk of developing Parkinson’s. Parkinson’s News Today provides more detail: https://parkinsonsnewstoday.com/2019/03/27/milk-linked-increased-risk-parkinsons-disease/
    7. The environmental toxin beta-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA) has long been suspected of playing a role in some cases of neurological disorders. Hints about the potential health threat of BMAA date back to the aftermath of World War II in the remote Pacific island of Guam. U.S. Army physicians encountered an outbreak of a strange syndrome that the native people called lytico-bodig—the term lytico signifying paralysis and bodig dementia. Some victims had ALS-like symptoms, others exhibited the rigid posture of Parkinson’s disease, and still others displayed the mental fogginess typical of Alzheimer’s. A 2011 article in Discover Magazine asked “Are Toxins in Seafood Causing ALS, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s?” and pointed to concerns that BMAA was being produced by blue-green algae.
      Now, in an alarming new study that has implications for people living along the Florida coast, scientists have discovered that dolphins there appear to be suffering from a condition similar to Alzheimer’s disease caused by BMAA toxins from common algae. University of Miami researchers examined the brains of 14 dolphins, some of which had beached themselves. Half of the marine mammals were found stranded in areas with frequent harmful algal blooms: the Banana River, Indian River Lagoon, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Gulf of Mexico. Thirteen of the dolphins’ brains had excessive levels of BMAA.  The University of Miami research report was published in PLOS One. More details at https://parkinson.fit/forums/topic/algae-toxin-dolphin-alzheimers/
    8. Are you curious about dance programs for Parkinson’s Disease? WREG News Channel 3 in Memphis pays a visit to the Dance for PD class at Ballet Memphis: https://www.facebook.com/parkinsonfit/posts/2325431524405986https://www.facebook.com/parkinsonfit/posts/2325431524405986
    9. Existing music therapy for Parkinson’s Disease helps people, but to me, it seems more geared to my grandfather’s generation. Wired Magazine has an interesting video titled “How Does Music Affect Your Brain? Every Imaginable Way” https://www.wired.com/story/tech-effects-how-does-music-affect-your-brain/.
      Meanwhile, Tomas Matthews, a PhD candidate at Concordia University in Montreal, is researching how brain regions involved in the different aspects of musical groove interact: http://theconversation.com/groovy-findings-researching-how-and-why-music-moves-you-112959.
      We don’t want to overthink it, because we know a good tune when we hear it. But, we do think it’s time to rethink music therapy, and give it a rock and roll transfusion: https://parkinson.fit/forums/topic/rethinking-music-therapy-for-parkinsons-disease/

Previous Week – March 23, 2019

Parkinson’s Awareness Month is a time to look outward, not inward

Who decides which disease or cause can lay claim to a month as an awareness month? I’m just curious, because we’re about to enter April, which for some reason is Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month.

It’s not that I don’t believe that PD deserves an awareness month. My issue is that I feel like a hypocrite. I am so aware of Parkinson’s Disease, that I have been completely unaware of awareness months for any other diseases or causes in the past year.

Therefore, I think there is no better way for those of us with PD to start Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month than to raise our awareness of other diseases and health concerns. Take this opportunity to learn about challenges that others are facing; learn about prevention and health screening for other health ailments; and consider also supporting organizations that devote themselves to worthwhile causes. 
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March 23, 2019 – Parkinson’s Weekly Update

This is a recap of the most interesting news and discussions related to Parkinson’s Disease this past week.

In completely made-up financial news, button industry stocks were down sharply after the Michael J. Fox Foundation announced a button boycott, as part of new initiative to tell the world to stop making products that people with Parkinson’s hate. Find out what industry is the next target in our exclusive special report. Also featured this week:

  • “I love the smell of Parkinson’s in the morning!” The woman who can smell Parkinson’s is back in the news, with research study results confirming that a unique odor is associated with concentrations of certain chemicals on the skin of people with Parkinson’s (honestly, we are not making this up);
  • The World Parkinson Congress has selected their top 12 Parkinson’s videos in a competition for this year’s conference, and you have an opportunity to vote for a favorite in the WPC’s “People’s Choice Award”;
  • A surgeon in China performed a Deep Brain Stimulation surgery over a 5G network from 1,800 miles away to avoid ever having to be face-to-face with his patient;
  • A Harvard study links vigorous exercise and fasting with a chemical trigger that induces a cellular process resulting in the elimination of excess or waste proteins;
  • See what non-motor symptoms of PD you might be missing out on with this handy reference guide;
  • Watch our video that highlights strength training exercises to target tremor prone muscles focusing on the forearm, wrist and grip;
  • Plus, we’re always on the lookout for news stories that help educate the public about Parkinson’s Disease exercise programs . This week, these stories take us to Rock Steady Boxing affiliates in Toronto, Asheville NC, Huntsville AL and North Attleboro MA, and an inspiring independent boxing gym in Salmon Arm, British Columbia.
  1. In completely made-up financial news, button industry stocks were down sharply after the Michael J. Fox Foundation announced a boycott of all clothing with buttons, as part of new initiative to tell the world to stop making products that people with Parkinson’s loathe and detest. Anticipating further boycotts, portfolio managers are telling investors to also divest of shoelace stocks, and to invest heavily in protest buttons and velcro. A foundation spokesperson issued a warning of future activism: “Squishy water bottles…those ones that  are impossible to open without spilling water all over yourself…which makes it look like you wet yourself…you’re next! People with Parkinson’s are mad as hell, and we’re not going to take it any more!” Of course, this story is a complete fabrication, but the hatred…oh, it’s real…and it’s festering…festering like a boil…manufacturers of buttons and squishy water bottles, your day of reckoning draws nigh. Retribution will be swift! This is all a long wind up for our song of the week…a Parkinson’s inspired ditty…“Buttons Kick My ***”. https://parkinson.fit/forums/topic/thing-we-hate-buttons-shoelaces-and-squishy-water-bottles/
  2. Fee-fi-fo-fum, this woman can smell the musky smell of Parkinson’s. (This is a rerun, but it’s back because the official study results have been released.) Les Milne was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 1995 at the age of 45. His wife, Joy, had noticed that he had a woody, musky odor…something that had started more than 10 years prior to this diagnosis. Back then, she had started suggesting to him that he wasn’t showering frequently enough or brushing his teeth enough. Finally, like many wives, she gave up trying to improve his hygiene. In 2012, 17 years after the PD diagnosis, the couple were at a Parkinson’s awareness conference when Joy realized that she was surrounded by people that smelled like her husband. Les passed away in 2015, but researchers at the University of Manchester (UK) dubbed Joy the “super smeller” and followed the scent in search of biomarkers that can be used for early detection. While there is still no cure for Parkinson’s, early detection may help researchers discover how the disease begins. And those diagnosed early may be able to benefit from earlier exercise intervention to better preserve motor function. This story is an improbable journey…along the way, we discover that it’s not excessive sweat, it’s excessive sebum…and why people with Parkinson’s are more likely  to have dandruff.  https://parkinson.fit/forums/topic/the-woman-who-can-smell-parkinsons-why-you-have-dandruff-and-biomarkers/
    Also recommended, additional detailed coverage from the Science of Parkinson’s website: https://scienceofparkinsons.com/2019/03/20/smell/
  3. The World Parkinson Congress takes place every 3 years. This year it will be in Kyoto, Japan from June 4-7, 2019. There is a video competition, where people with Parkinson’s create videos to increase PD awareness. The top 12 videos have been selected, and you have an opportunity to watch them and vote for a favorite in the WPC’s “People’s Choice Award”: https://parkinson.fit/world-parkinson-congress-2019-video-competition/
  4. People in China apparently don’t have to put up with the likes of Verizon or AT&T.  A surgeon in China performed Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) surgery remotely over a 5G network on a patient with Parkinson’s Disease who was over 1,800 miles a way. Unfortunately, the surgeon went over his data allowance, and he has to perform three more surgeries to pay off the overage charges. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-6821613/Surgeon-performs-world-remote-brain-surgery-patient-1-800-MILES-AWAY.html
  5. Psychology Today published an intriguing article “Exercise and Fasting Linked to Brain Detox”, which provides a layman’s explanation of a recent Harvard research study “26S Proteasomes are rapidly activated by diverse hormones and physiological states that raise cAMP and cause Rpn6 phosphorylation”. (With a title like that, you know the study is a real page turner!) The Harvard study showed that both fasting and vigorous exercise significantly increased the levels of cAMP, a chemical trigger that induces a cellular process resulting in the elimination of excess or waste proteins. This is interesting because Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases are linked to excess accumulation of misfolded proteins. More research is obviously required, but intermittent fasting might not be such a crazy idea after all: https://parkinson.fit/forums/topic/why-i-am-experimenting-with-intermittent-fasting-to-see-if-it-helps-parkinsons/#post-106523
  6. The Parkinson’s Foundation published a web page detailing common non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s. The list is so long, we’re confident that you don’t have them all. So take solace in looking over the list, and realizing that things could be worse. (Seriously, it’s quite an interesting list.)  https://parkinson.org/blog/tips/Non-motor-Symptoms-Whats-New-Part-1
  7. Back at Parkinson.FIT HQ, we produced a video highlighting strength training exercises for the forearm, wrist and grip, in an effort to target tremor-prone muscles that are frequently overlooked in workouts. https://parkinson.fit/strength-training-for-pd-forearm-wrist-and-grip/
  8. Finally, we’re always on the lookout for news stories that help educate the public about Parkinson’s Disease exercise programs .

Previous Week – March 16, 2019

Targeting PD Tremors with Strength Training: Forearm, Wrist and Grip

Most of us have tremors in our lower arm and wrist. In this video, we discuss strength training exercises targeting the forearm, wrist and grip … simple low intensity exercises that are a great way to start the day.

The equipment used in this video:

TheraBand FlexBar – https://www.amazon.com/TheraBand-Tendonitis-Strength-Resistance-Tendinitis/dp/B000KGOMBC/

Grip Strengthener: https://www.amazon.com/ADMA-Strengthener-Adjustable-Resistance-Rehabilitation/dp/B07DB2QL6M/

Bowflex SelectTech Adjustable Dumbbells – https://www.amazon.com/Bowflex-SelectTech-Adjustable-Dumbbells-Pair/dp/B001ARYU58/

How Much Should I Exercise for Parkinson’s Disease? (Video + Presentation)

We’ve created a PowerPoint video presentation detailing exercise recommendations and related research for people with Parkinson’s Disease.

The presentation slides can be viewed interactively below:


The presentation slides can be downloaded by clicking on the image below: