Since Tom Bauer, M.D., realizes that social contacts can play a big role in the lives of people with a chronic illness, he is trying to gauge the interest in a local Parkinson’s disease support group. An informational meeting is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 16 at St. Rose Ambulatory & Surgery Center.
Dr. Bauer’s medical practice is at Great Bend Internists, which St. Rose owns. The meeting is free and open to the public, and will be held in the St. Dominic Room.
“We have many patients with Parkinson’s who might benefit from a support group,” Dr. Bauer said. “But we would like to determine the community’s interest by inviting patients and their families to this meeting. We need to know the level of interest.
“The goal of a support group,” Dr. Bauer continued, “is simply to be a source of comfort and information for those living with an illness. Mutual support can help them enjoy a better quality of life.”
Parkinson’s is a brain and nerve disease that is chronic and progressive. It affects nerve cells in the brain that normally produce dopamine, a chemical that transmits signals between areas in the brain.
“It is a degenerative disorder of the nervous system and the common denominator is the lack of dopamine,” Dr. Bauer summarized. “It manifests itself in tremors, imbalance and stiffness.”
Those with the disease are at great risk of falling and sustaining the injuries that can result. Patients also may have difficulty with memory and slow thinking.
“Most people do well with the Parkinson’s medications,” Dr. Bauer said. “They replace the dopamine that has been lost.”
While research is ongoing, the cause of Parkinson’s is unknown, and there is no way to prevent or cure it. However, there has been substantial progress in this research, which means hope for the future, Dr. Bauer noted.
“We hope that anyone who wants to learn more about Parkinson’s will attend this open meeting we have scheduled,” Dr. Bauer said. “If they choose to organize a support group, I think they will enjoy the social and educational aspects of gathering with people who understand their situation.”