KINGSTON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – More than 10 million people worldwide live with the progressive nervous system disorder Parkinson’s disease. It causes stiffness, tremors, and even affects speech. While therapy cannot reverse Parkinson’s, it can help improve quality of life.
It’s usually physical, occupational and speech therapy that are recommended. But as Eyewitness News Healthbeat Reporter Mark Hiller explains, there’s something else for some Parkinson’s patients in the Wyoming Valley that’s yielding some encouraging results.
What you’re seeing is merely a warmup to the main event at the Friedman Jewish Community Center. With the help of an instructor, these individuals take part in what’s called “Dance for Parkinson’s”. 85-year-old Esther Davidowitz is among the participants learning the movements over and over before the dancing begins. “Repetition is essential because you don’t have the memory capacity that you did.”
Even though Ms. Davidowitz undergoes skilled therapy elsewhere, she decided to give this new JCC program a go. “It has a different dimension. The music makes it wonderful.” It doesn’t mean she didn’t arrive with some concern. “Because you take your limitations with you and you hope whatever program you’re a part of will strengthen you,” said Ms. Davidowitz.
Dance Instructor Linn McDonald took a certification course to lead this class. “It is very good for balance, flexibility, musicality.” She’s pleased with the early results. So is Nicole Lipinski, Director of Healthy Aging, The Jewish Home of Eastern Pennsylvania who applied for the $15,000 grant from the Parkinson’s Foundation to make this program possible. “And they’re really concentrating to learn the moves so they look like they’re really into the program.”
Parkinson’s is a way of life for Marilyn O’Boyle. “I’ll be six years diagnosed in October,” she said. The Dallas Township woman considers the class a confidence booster. “Sometimes you feel you can’t do what you used to do but you have to focus on what you can do.”
Some stand and some may sit for the big finish. Either way, they’re reaping physical benefits one class at a time. “Every little bit helps,” said Ms. O’Boyle.
Ms. McDonald feels extra motivated to teach the class. Her own father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Dance for Parkinson’s is held Tuesday afternoons at 1:00 at the Friedman JCC in Kingston. You can learn more by contacting Nicole Lipinski at 570-344-6177 ext. 1113.