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Small Steps Lead To Big Advances Against Parkinson’s

Thursday April 28, 2005

04/22/05(13WHAM.com) - April is Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month and one man who’s living with the disease said he has discovered several small steps that can make a big difference.

If you take a walk down the hall with Ed Nies, you’d never know he’s had Parkinson’s for five years, but he says it wasn’t always that way.

"It got to the point where I couldn’t button my shirt without a lot of help and I just knew something was wrong," he said.

What was wrong was that his brain wasn’t producing enough of a chemical called dopamine, which is what triggers the symptoms of the disease--the body becomes rigid and patients also develop tremors, slow movement, and can have postural changes.

To prevent many of these problems, Ed underwent an exercise program targeted to treat his specific symptoms. Fitness experts are now trained to help design these programs.

Ed has also responded well to newer medications and he remains on the list for several clinical trials now in the works which he may qualify for as his disease progresses.

Nurse educator, Debbie Mills said, "[Researchers] are looking at cell death, trying to prevent it while the cell is dying. And they are looking at growth factors to help regenerate cells."

Until these treatments are in the mainstream, Ed recommends teaming up with other Parkinson’s patients.

"I think one of the most important things they need to do is join a support group, learning all they can about the disease, the more you can do about it, knowledge is power," he said.