Hanging at the Beach!

Last Thursday we visited the University of Florida Movement Disorders Center in Gainesville, FL. As I mentioned in the last post, the visit included appointments with Dr. Hess, and Occupational, Physical, and Speech therapists. One of the prerequisites for this visit was I had to be off of my PD medication for at least 12 hours so I arrived pretty stiff and slow. When I checked in I was given an IPad so I could complete a questionnaire that I will need to do every visit. We then met with a tech who went over my general info, asked if I agreed to video taping and collection of my information for their clinical database. He then asked me a series of questions that included testing of my cognitive abilities and he said I was fine so I fooled him :).  These were the first tests of many I had during the day and they will all be repeated on every visit to help them identify any changes between visits.
Next we were met by Dr Hess’s nurse who did the checking of my weight, blood pressure and other vitals and inputting of my current meds.  Then Dr Morita, an associate of Dr Hess, spent at least an hour asking lots of questions and performing tests including the UPDRS (Unified PD Rating Scale) which was given at the start of the interview, then I was allowed to take my medication and was tested again about 30 minutes later.  He was great and spent a lot of time making sure he had my answers correct and answering any questions we had.
After he was done, he met with Dr Hess and then they both returned to discuss the findings, Dr Hess repeated a couple of the tests and thought I was possibly slightly under medicated but felt that since the Mirapex was working and I wasn’t having any major side effects, no change of med was needed at this time.  Since I will continue with my Knoxville Neurologist, we set the next visit for a year from now.
The next meeting was with Lisa Warren, an occupational therapist who also gave me more tests, asked lots of questions and gave us several good ideas for some stretching to maintain flexibility and improve my posture.  We were surprised to find that my arm strength is above average for my age group as I felt I was weaker since the symptoms appeared. We were very happy with Lisa and the help she provided.
Next up was an hour with Shankar Kulkarni a physical therapist who gave me more tests and many great ideas for what PT I should have, again mostly stretching to reduce rigidity and ideas to improve my gait. He had me marching around the PT area swinging my arms and lifting my knees like a guard at Buckingham Place.  He also showed me the proper method to get in and out of bed. Again, just what we had hoped for and very helpful. He said that they have a weekly PD exercise class on Thursday at 5:15 and he recommended I attend for more ideas.
The final meeting was with a group of speech therapists (some were in training) who gathered more history, gave me more tests and recorded my speech (which had been soft all day already).  Again we discussed  several ideas for helping with the soft speech but decided I didn’t need an x-ray swallowing test since I haven’t had any issues in that area yet, but will have one next time.After a full day, we decided we might as well attend the PD exercise class which was conducted by PT students and gave us 45 minutes of exercise and we got some more ideas for exercises we can do it home.
It was a very productive visit and worth the drive down. Meeting with staff who specialize in PD was great. The general outcome was to fight the progressive nature of PD I need to up my exercise (30 minute walk isn’t enough) and stretching.  My current medication is working so no change was recommended and they want to see me again in a year.  I came away with a lot of good ideas from the therapists and have the ability to contact any of them or the Doctors via email with any questions we might have which is nice.Since we happen to be close to our usual beach location in Siesta Key, we are spending a week at the beach where we hope it will be warm and sunny so we can get in a lot of exercise! 🙂

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