University of Florida doctors will be joined by an ultra-marathoner — a man accustomed to running more than 60 miles at a stretch — for the eighth annual Parkinson’s disease symposium from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 24, at Abiding Savior Lutheran Church, 9700 West Newberry Road in Gainesville.
Called “Hopeful Days in Parkinson’s Disease,” the event is sponsored by the UF Movement Disorders Center, a National Parkinson Foundation Center of Excellence at UF’s McKnight Brain Institute. It is intended for people living with the disease, their caregivers, health-care professionals and anyone who is interested in learning more about Parkinson’s.
Jon Anderson, a Gainesville area resident who began his running career in 1962 in high school and hasn’t since let Parkinson’s disease to stop him, will talk about how he applied the ultra-marathoner’s mantra of “relentless forward motion” to his life. His talk will take place at 11 a.m.
Registration begins at 8:15 a.m. with an 8:45 a.m. welcome and update on the latest in Parkinson’s care from UF Movement Disorders Center co-director Dr. Michael Okun. McKnight Brain Institute Executive Director Dennis Steindler, Ph.D., will talk at 9:30 a.m. about advances in the field of regenerative medicine for movement disorders.
“This year we are focusing on hope,” said Dr. Irene Malaty, an assistant professor of neurology and National Parkinson Foundation medical director at the Movement Disorders Center. “The lecture from Dr. Steindler is a great example. Certainly amazing advances have happened since the 1960s in the care of patients with Parkinson’s disease. But we are now approaching therapies that can prevent or halt the progression of Parkinson’s disease, and perhaps even cure it. So there is plenty of reason for hope for the future.”
At 2 p.m., Malaty will talk about Parkinson symptoms beyond the stiffness, slow movements and difficulty walking most often associated with the disease during the inaugural Robert Stockdale Lecture at 2 p.m.
“It is under-recognized that Parkinson’s disease is a lot more than a movement disorder,” Malaty said. “Mood, cognitive difficulties and other problems affect the quality of life of patients and their families. It is empowering for people to become educated about these things, many times so they can realize they are not alone and that there is a reason for what they are going through.”
The Stockdale lecture was established by a private donation to increase public awareness of movement disorders through lectures provided by experts from the MBI and others within the movement disorders field.
For a musical interlude, Jill Sonke-Henderson, the co-director of the center’s Dance For Life program, will introduce some dancers and present program graduates beginning at 12:30 p.m.
Also speaking during the event will be physical therapist Melissa Daly, who will talk about physical activity and falling; Dr. Ramon Rodriguez, the director of clinical services for the Movement Disorders Center, who will talk about managing Parkinson’s symptoms; and Sherrilene Classen, Ph.D., of the department of occupational therapy, who will discuss how Parkinson’s affects driving.
The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Contact Rachelle Stephen at 352-273-5566 for information.