Local Caregivers Raise Awareness for Parkinson’s Disease During Annual Symposium

They're hoping events like these will start an upward trend in cure research

FARGO, N.D. — According to health experts, about 1 million people are living with Parkinson’s disease in the U.S.

That number is expected to double in the next 20 years.

Local caregivers are bringing awareness to the disease and supporting those who have it.

People living with Parkinson’s disease and their loved ones are filling the air with “ahs,” but they aren’t singing.

Heidi Fiskness, a speech language pathologist, is leading them through a speech exercise.

This is part of the 11th annual Community Parkinson’s Symposium.

Many speakers are presenting their ideas to get more people to talk about the disease.

“When you have Parkinson’s disease, you have to live with that, and that can come with any number of complications, any number of things that cost money, any number of things that cause a decrease in quality of life,” said Sarah Matcha, the executive director for the Midwest Parkinson’s Initiative.

Fiskness is one of the key speakers at the symposium, and she stresses the speech treatment LSVT Loud.

It teaches those with Parkinson’s to speak at a normal volume.

“It’s a cue that really kind of solidifies in their brain that hey, say it with purpose, be heard when you talk,” said Fiskness, who works with Sanford Health. “Because with Parkinson’s disease, your voice can get really, really soft and mumbled, or mushed together.”

Fiskness teaches those with Parkinson’s disease how to still speak normally through saying vowel sounds and reading quotes, among other things.

She says she appreciates every opportunity she can get to help.

“I love my job,” Fiskness said. “It’s very rewarding to be able to help individuals with Parkinson’s disease, so it was an awesome opportunity to be able to share these exercises with this large crowd.”

Organizers of the symposium say they are hopeful the event will shed more light on this disease and will lead to better research for a cure.

According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, about 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with the disease every year.

Categories: Health, Local News, North Dakota News