Medical Monday: Parkinson's therapy program

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Tremors, impaired movement and speech difficulties are all symptoms of Parkinson's disease. It's a neurological disease that can change a patient's way of life.

Tom Watson was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2009. "We have seen a definite progression over time, and so he has started therapy," said his wife, Beverly Watson.

That therapy is with physical therapist, Deon Jones, who runs a Parkinson's specific exercise program at Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center's Rehab Center. Jones decided to implement the program after her sister was diagnosed.

"After she was diagnosed, I made it my business to find out what was available, and I came to a program in Tucson, Arizona, called Parkinson Wellness Recovery, and we brought a trainer here to Panama City," said Jones.

Jones then developed the local program and is seeing great success.
"Often with Parkinson's, people get all stooped over. They get to where they shuffle their feet. They can't move their feet quickly, and so we work on making movements be faster and larger and working on safety," added Jones.

Tom's wife, Beverly, is thankful for his progress. "I have been able to see a significant difference in his walking ability, his standing, his posture has really changed. Actually, it helps his whole attitude," noticed Beverly.

"Enjoy the changes that I feel. When I get home at night, I'm tired and sore, but it's because they've stretched me out. They've made me go into positions that I wouldn't normally go into," said Tom.

Jones said the program utilizes the movements that challenge patients and help them perform daily tasks when they get home. "All too often people get the diagnosis and think get your affairs in order, and it's just not true. There's so much that can be done to delay the disease," explained Jones.

And delaying the disease is exactly what Tom and Beverly are working to do. To get more information on the Parkinson's disease program, you can call 850-747-7966.