Awareness of Parkinson's being raised in Stoke-on-Trent

A Stoke-on-Trent church is welcoming an international expert to a special event for people with Parkinson’s and their carers.

St Paul’s in Longton Hall is hosting a conference featuring Mike Studer, a speaker from the US who specialises in neurologic physiotherapy, on Saturday 11 May to share practical expertise in helping people live well with Parkinson’s.

The ‘Living Well With Parkinson’s’ conference was borne out of a support group at St Paul’s Church in Longton for local people with Parkinson’s, a debilitating disease that affects one in 500 people.

The group was set up by church member Roy Clarke, who was diagnosed with the disease in 2012 and has made it his mission to reach out into the community, including work with physios, carers, clinicians and sufferers.

Roy explained that raising awareness about how people can continue to function well with Parkinson’s was really important.

“When In 2012 I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, my consultant told me I’d had the illness for a long time. I have a left-sided tremor with some stiffness on that side. I have lost my sense of smell, have difficulty multitasking and often suffer from fatigue. I find it difficult in crowded or confined spaces. What I found once easy to do now is slower and harder,” he said. “The first couple of years getting the medication that was right for me was really tough. I have for many years attended the local gym and have continued to do so when able and have found it most helpful. From research online I discovered that exercise was hugely important for people with early onset Parkinson’s.

“The remarkable thing that I have found with this complex disease is that when I was having difficulty walking I found I could ride a bike normally, later I discovered when walking down the road and spelling words backwards my ability to walk became a more natural. It has been a learning curve of finding out what works for you as each person with Parkinson’s is different. My personal journey has been made easier by the support of my local church at St Paul’s.”

The Reverend Jon Alessi, vicar at St Paul’s, added: “It is really important that churches engage with this issue as Parkinson’s affects families across all of our communities. We look forward to welcoming Mike for what will be a significant event at St Paul’s. ”

The  conference is aimed at people with Parkinson’s and their carers along with health and social care professionals, GPs, physio/occupational therapists, organisations that care for the elderly and anyone interested in neurologic physiotherapy.

It will cover topics including the role of exercise in managing Parkinson’s, fitness and flexibility and what happens in the brain with Parkinson’s. It runs from 10am to 3.15pm at the church in Longton Hall Road, ST3 2EL

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