North Dakotans prone to Parkinson’s disease

A wellness class being taught at the Minot Family YMCA is one of the most helpful we have seen in some time.

There is no cure for Parkinson’s but the symptoms can be held off through exercise, which is the purpose of Delay the Disease. The class was the subject of a recent article in the Minot Daily News.

The topic should be important to our readers, we learned, because North Dakota has the third highest rate of Parkinson’s in the country. Who knew? But now we all know and that can be a start to identifying and treating the disease.

Parkinson’s, which causes abnormal brain activity that affects one’s control of muscle movement, isn’t always recognized because of the gradual onset of the disease. It can begin with a tremor in one hand, or in a finger and then progresses.

Among the many symptoms to watch for are tremors, slowness of movements and loss of purposeful spontaneous movement, rigidity and lack of balance and coordination. Other potential symptoms include fatigue, depression, small handwriting, loss of sense of smell and changes in speech, swallowing, facial expression and gait.

If you or a person you know exhibits these symptoms, get checked out by a physician. There are medicines a doctor can prescribe to help Parkinson’s patients.

As for exercise treatment, which is a key part in fighting many diseases, there are several things to like about the Delay the Disease program including that participants feel like they are taking back control of their bodies. And, the exercizes are disease-specific, which makes them seem more purposeful to patients. Also, specific outcomes such as improving hand-writing are identified – clear goals are set. Both mind and body are targeted in the firm belief that lost function will return.

Providing that kind of hope for Parkinson’s patients makes Delay the Disease a winner in our book. Thanks and congratulations to Tanya Gillen, certified personal trainer and exercise physiologist with Trinity Health, who teaches the course. Gillen was certified in July to teach Delay the Disease and brought the course to North Dakota – where it is evidently greatly needed.

Who knew?