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Dr. Michael Okun, Dr. Cynthia Fox and Dr. Dean Sutherland
Sarasota Thursday, Feb. 9, 2012 9 years ago

Symposium focuses on research treatment

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by: Nick Friedman Managing Editor of Arts and Culture

The 15th annual Suncoast Parkinson’s Disease Symposium, held Feb. 4, drew nearly 1,000 patients, caregivers and physicians, who came to learn about the latest advances in Parkinson’s studies and treatments.

Attendees packed the Sarasota Memorial HealthPlex gym to capacity, to hear from leading health-care professionals in the field. The symposium was live-streamed to two overflow satellite locations, to accommodate the large registration numbers.

During his presentation, Dr. Michael Okun, medical director of the National Parkinson Foundation, discussed his hope for a shift in the philosophy surrounding the treatment of Parkinson’s patients, to focus on a patient-centric model. He stressed the importance of an interdisciplinary approach to treatment, saying that facilitates more discussion and better results.

He also shed light on some of the most up-to-date research and studies, which he said are yielding promising results.

“Patients might have the disease, but the disease does not have them,” said Okun. “Parkinson disease is different than other neurological disorders. There are ways to improve your condition and continue to interact with society.”

Dr. Cynthia Fox, a research associate at the National Center for Voice and Speech and co-founder of the Big and Loud Voice Therapy, outlined the Lee Silverman Voice Therapy system, which incorporates voice and body exercises into Parkinson’s treatment.

Dr. James Schumacher, a Sarasota Memorial Hospital neurosurgeon, discussed deep-brain stimulation and the groundbreaking science of creating dopamine cells from people’s own skin cells. The latter effort has been designed to help patients overcome the effects of the faulty cell mechanisms that result from the disease.

Dr. Dean Sutherland, medical director of the Neoro Challenge Foundation and founder of the Southeastern Center for Parkinson’s Disease, discussed the causes, risk factors and methods for diagnosis of the illness.

The Neuro Challenge Foundation hosted the symposium, the largest of its kind in the nation.

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