For Art Guyer, a seminar Friday on Parkinson’s is more than an opportunity to educate people about the degenerative brain disease. It is the culmination of a year and a half’s worth of work.
About 150 people, mostly those with Parkinson’s and their caregivers, will gather at the 2019 Parkinson’s Community Seminar at Otterbein United Methodist Church in Hagerstown.
“It’s an educational opportunity because we’re going to have three of the top movement specialists speaking,” Guyer said.
There will be speakers from Johns Hopkins University as well as from Frederick. There will be opportunities for questions-and-answer sessions and 15 vendors, including from local care groups and major drug companies.
The event is sold out, Guyer said, which shows the level of interest. He said that for people with a family member who has Parkinson’s, there is a lot of awareness, but for the general public, many do not know about the disease.
“And that is a sad thing. ... It is the second highest neurological disease in the world, with Alzheimer’s being the first, and yet a lot of people have not heard about it,” Guyer said.
Parkinson’s disease affects a structure in the brain called basal ganglia, a system of cells that helps control body movements. The disease is characterized by tremors and stiffness, said Dr. Laura Brosbe, a movement specialist in Frederick.
Movement specialists prescribe medicine but also help connect patients with occupational therapists, physical therapists and speech therapists, Brosbe said.
Brosbe will give an introductory talk about Parkinson’s disease at the seminar. The organizers approached her a year ago, she said.
Brosbe is one of the only local people speaking at the conference, since many of the speakers come from Baltimore. It’s representative of the problem facing those with Parkinson’s in western Maryland, Guyer said. Many have to drive over an hour to Baltimore to see specialists.
The event is put on by a consortium of support groups for those with Parkinson’s disease and their caregivers, Guyer said.
“We’re trying to reach people who maybe don’t know about the support groups, maybe they don’t know about movement disorder specialists, they have gone to a local doctor or neurologist,” Guyer said. “There’s a lot of people out there with Parkinson’s that we have not been able to touch yet.”
The seminar will also bring together people with Parkinson’s to one space, like an educational support group session.
“It’s no different than a support group for people with cancer or any of the other major diseases. When you put people together who have the same issues they all the sudden start talking to each other a lot better, a lot deeper than they would in a general public situation,” Guyer said.