April is Parkinson’s disease (PD) Awareness month, and throughout the country, local and national organizations will sponsor events. Money raised will go towards research, support groups, and community-based education and exercise programs.

As many as 1 million Americans are living with Parkinson’s disease, and approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with PD each year. Worldwide, it is estimated that 10 million people have a Parkinson’s diagnosis, though the exact number is difficult to determine because many people do not get diagnosed in the early stages of the disease. Also, because there is no definitive diagnostic test for Parkinson’s some people initially diagnosed with PD will later be re-diagnosed with atypical Parkinson’s or another condition.

The prevalence of Parkinson’s disease worldwide has led some authors to refer to it as a pandemic, a word that unfortunately, because of COVID-19, has become familiar to all of us. It is estimated that the number of people with PD worldwide will double from 6.9 million in 2015 to 14.2 million in 2040. [i]

Unlike the COVID-19 pandemic Parkinson’s disease is not a communicable disease that is easily transmitted from one person to another, and the cause/s of PD remain a mystery to researchers and clinicians, though there are some environmental and genetic associations.

One similarity to the COVID-19 pandemic and Parkinson’s is the inequity in care, with studies and surveys reporting that in the US and Europe 40% of people with PD symptoms have never seen a neurologist or movement disorders specialist. In poorer countries around the world, there is even worse access to specialist and medications that are so essential to managing the symptoms of PD.

Based on findings of a study conducted by the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson Research the individual economic burden for a person with PD amounted to $52,000 annually, and the total economic burden of PD in the United States was $52 billion. The study showed the government spends nearly $25 billion each year in caring for people with Parkinson’s. About $2 billion of that is shouldered by Social Security, and the remaining $23 billion is in Medicare costs since nearly 90 percent of people with PD are on Medicare.[ii]  (As of May 2020 Congress had approved some $2.4 trillion to combat the coronavirus crisis and the resulting financial fallout).

Why Should WE Care?

At least 50% of the government’s money is the result of individual’s paying taxes and yet, rarely do we have a direct say in how it is allocated. Some people will rail against government spending, and others will welcome it when it has a direct impact on their well-being.

So, as we enter April and Parkinson’s Awareness month, I ask readers: “what do you want people to know about Parkinson’s disease, and why should we care?”

[i] The Parkinson Pandemic—A Call to Action November 13, 2017.doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2017.3299                [ii] https://www.michaeljfox.org/news/study-finds-parkinsons-52-billion-economic-burden-double-previous-estimates.

April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month

Neurological disorders are now the leading cause of disability in the world. Among these neurological disorders, the fastest growing is Parkinson’s disease, whose growth is surpassing that of Alzheimer disease, and the number of people with PD will double from 6.9 million in 2015 to 14.2 million in 2040, representing a pandemic of a different sort. It is important that individuals with PD and their families  support the local Parkinson’s community organizations that depend on your donations in order to provide support groups, education and exercise programs, which we know are all essential to better health and quality of life. 

Voice Aerobics Family of Products Helping PWP Improve Their Speech and Voice
            Before-During-and After Therapy
Voice Aerobics Class participating in Voice strengthening exercises for thos affected by Parkinson's Disease with medical speech-language pathologistmedical speech-language pathologistmedical speech-language pathologist medical speech-language pathologist

Voice Aerobics Class in Florida

Voice Aerobics®, introduced in 1999, was the original whole-body program developed for people with Parkinson’s combining voice practice with movement. It’s hard to imagine a time when we did not have the internet bombarding us with information, but at the time it was created, there was nothing available for my Parkinson’s patients once they completed a course of speech therapy, and patients weren’t sure how to practice on their own.

I began creating audio tapes for home practice, and eventually created a weekly class called Voice Aerobics.         

In 2008 due to so many class participants requesting a copy of the exercises, the class was recorded on DVD for distribution. While it is no longer available as a DVD, and I have aged a few years since it’s creation, in keeping up with the times, the class is still available as a download to your computer or tablet or even rent for a few days.

All of the movements can be done seated or standing, and throughout the class you are encouraged to focus on: Posture, Breathing, and Voice. You can download Part 1: Breathwork or the entire program.  To Purchase or Rent Visit:  To purchase or rent visit: https://voiceaerobicsdvd.vhx.tv/products/voice-aerobics-r-is-a-57-minute-guided-voice-strengthening-program?

Over the last 20 years whenever I complete Part 1, Breathwork, I am always relaxed, mindful of my body and breathing, and present in the moment. Why not try it? I guarantee you will feel better afterward. My goal in creating the Voice Aerobics family of products was to provide people with Parkinson’s and related disorders  programs and products that are: affordable, portable, and FUN!

When I formed my company in 2008, I envisioned that everyone with PD, no matter where they lived in the world, could have access to Voice Aerobics. It remains a goal. Do you know someone who could benefit from at home practice including use of the Hi-VOLT, a calibrated voice-activated feedback tool, and Hi-VOLT 4 PD, a guided audio recording now available with our streaming partners? 

If you are not familiar with the Voice Aerobics family of products or know someone who would benefit,  please visit my website to learn more. https://voiceaerobicsdvd.com/

My father, Mayor of the Village of North Randall, Ohio, for 42 years, struggled with symptoms from Parkinson’s in the last years of his life.  My Mission, which as never changed  is guided by my values and the example of my father: “love what you do and to be of service to others.

 

My Mission: To enlist individuals in their treatment, and help them express their personality & spirit through voice. To educate  and empower. Mary Spremulli, MA, CCC-SLP * FiTOUR® Group Exercise Instructor * Voice Aerobics® A Whole Body Approach to Voice Practice

Voice Aerobics the heART and Science of Voice Practice