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Educational Series on Parkinson’s Disease Launched for Applewood Residents

Oct 24, 2022

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woman demonstrating in front of podium

Rhonda Johnson, MS, CCC-SLP, Applewood Director of Rehabilitation

“Mastering Parkinson’s Disease,” a new interactive health education series, hosted by Jia Zhen Cheng, MD, CentraState Medical Center Movement Disorder Specialist; Shannon Lenahan, PT, DPT, CentraState Rehabilitation Department; and Rhonda Johnson, MS, CCC-SLP, Applewood Director of Rehabilitation began this week.

The introductory session provided guidance to help residents understand the complexity of accurately diagnosing neurodegenerative conditions like Parkinson’s Disease (PD). This complexity can lead to delays in starting treatment to minimize symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.

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Shannon Lenahan, PT, DPT, CentraState Rehabilitation Department

Applewood Director of Rehabilitation offers guidance

Johnson says these educational seminars help residents recognize symptoms and learn about diagnostic testing and the latest treatment protocols. “Treating Parkinson’s symptoms can be more successful when the disease is diagnosed earlier so that treatment can begin as soon as possible.”

“Because people are living longer, we’re seeing an increase in the number of residents with movement disorders,” notes Rhonda Johnson.

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the second-most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s disease. According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, which provided a grant to CentraState Healthcare System to produce the series for Applewood, nearly one million people in the U.S. are living with Parkinson’s disease, and that number is expected to increase to 1.2 million people by 2030. Approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with PD yearly.

The program also included a Q&A period for residents who asked questions about diagnosis, fall prevention, recommended mobility devices and medication use.

Applewood’s on-campus Rehabilitation Center offers a full spectrum of physical and occupational therapy for residents with acute and chronic conditions, including Parkinson’s. Staffed by a team of licensed physical, occupational and speech therapists, residents have easy and convenient access to top-tier rehabilitative services, including LSVT LOUD and PWR-certified therapists specially-trained in Parkinson’s speech and physical therapy. “This type of targeted clinician expertise can help people with these conditions live longer and better lives,” Rhonda explains.

woman talking in front of podium

Jia Zhen Cheng, MD, CentraState Medical Center Movement Disorder Specialist

“My number one recommendation to anyone diagnosed with any movement disorder is to perform aerobic exercise 3-4 times weekly lasting 30-45 minutes,” explains Dr. Cheng, a board-certified neurologist specializing in movement disorders. “Aerobic exercise has been clinically proven to help to maintain strength, flexibility, balance, and cognitive clarity.” The doctor noted that medication, coupled with eating whole foods versus processed foods, can also help mitigate side effects, such as tremors, mental health issues, incontinence/constipation and sleeping difficulties.

“Like managing any chronic condition, diagnosis leads to faster treatment, empowering the patient to maintain better control over the disease and live a better life. Knowledge is power,” says Dr. Cheng.

The presenters concluded the program by noting that Parkinson’s disease affects every person differently. Patients diagnosed with neurodegenerative disorders may not experience the same symptoms or severity of the condition the same as others who are affected.

Thriving—not surviving—in a wellness-focused retirement community

Applewood is a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) affiliated with CentraState Healthcare System, an Atlantic Health System partner, a private, not-for-profit health organization located less than a mile from our campus. Our community offers independent living for active seniors, assisted living, Thrive memory care and skilled nursing residential living. Call 732.303.7416 to schedule a visit or learn more.