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Parkinson's group fights back

Sloane Enninga, Colby Free Press

Mar 18, 2022

Each Wednesday, people get together for the Parkinson’s Families of Northwest meeting at the Movement Connection. This week, the group spent the last 10 minutes of their physical movement time getting both sides of their brain involved in the activity, which happened to be pool noodles and bouncy balls.

Parkinson’s Families of Northwest Kansas continues to meet weekly for people with Parkinson's or "essential tremors" and their caregivers, and members participate in activities including music, art, physical therapy and support groups.

“Parkinson's is a muscle disease,” said Elaine Ptacek, founder of the group,“Every muscle in your body will eventually deteriorate. The more you use those, like your voice – your throat, your hands, your feet, the longer your hopes are to continue to use them.”

The activities the group does keep those small muscles active and strong to combat deterioration, she said. Music is a big component of that because a lot of people who suffer from Parkinson's lose their voice or their voice softens. Strengthening throat muscles helps prevent people from choking on food or having swallowing issues, which are common.

Every week before the activity, the group – formed in 2020 – meets with Brenda Mazanec, owner of the Movement Connection, and does some movement activities that activate both sides of the brain. The movements incorporates both hemispheres of the brain as well as strengthening and helping with flexibility.

The reason why you want to keep strengthening and keeping up flexibility, is because as soon as you don’t you may lose the ability to use those muscles. All activities that incorporate both sides of the brain slows the degeneration of the muscles.

“I always use the basic exercises,” Mazanec said, “and I (am certified in) what is called “PWR!Moves” (by) Parkinson's Wellness and Recovery. I use many of the PWR!Moves and I incorporate some “Brain Gym” … so they're always basically the same for the first 20 minutes.”

She said she also adds hand weights, beanbags or different pieces of equipments into the activity, and she likes to end the last 10 minutes with something unique and fun, just to get people to talk and move at the same time, again incorporating the brain-body connection.

“Brain-body connection,” she said, “That's what it's all about.”

All the activities the group participates in each week are free, Ptacek said. Every Wednesday morning at 10 a.m., the group meets at her studio at 430 N. Franklin Ave. The group is always looking for more people to participate, she added.

Caregivers are also included in the group and she said they give out all kinds of educational material. The last week of March at 11 a.m., the group will meet to have more education for caregivers, including the Heimlich maneuver and planning palliative care.

Palliative care to help those whose disease has progressed so much that they need help outside of the home. These services may include doctors, medicine, nursing homes on in-home care by medical professionals.

People who suffer from essential tremors, which is similar to Parkinson’s, may also come the meetings. To be able to provide these services for free, she said that the group gets grants, recruits sponsors and raises money.

“We want to include anyone with Parkinson’s and essential tremors,” Ptacek said, “and it’s all free. And Brenda's very good about accommodating and modifying things for everyone's needs.”

The group usually does movements for the first 30 minutes, she said, then before their main activity, they stop and have coffee, hot tea and a snack before moving on at 11 a.m. The whole meeting normally last around two hours, she said.

She said anyone who has questions about the group's upcoming walk, run and bikeathon, set fir Saturday, April 30, can register at She said that anyone who has questions about the group should go to their Facebook page, Parkinson’s Families.

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