Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 2, 2012

By Shavonne Potts
SALISBURY — Dorothy Culbertson exercises several times a week including yoga. She finds it mentally stimulating and good for managing her Parkinson’s Disease.
In 2002, Culbertson was diagnosed at age 52 and in the beginning had no problems working at her job at Lowe’s Home Improvement. When that proved difficult, she left in 2010.
She shared about the benefits of exercising while attending the monthly Parkinson’s support group held Tuesday at First Presbyterian Church.
“It’s always been apart of my life, but more so now,” she said of exercising.
Culbertson takes yoga classes two days a week and works out at home including hand weights.
Parkinson’s is a progressive disease that’s generally associated with tremor or trembling of the arms and legs. Those with Parkinson’s Disease often experience stiffness and rigidity of the muscles as well as slowness of movement, according to the Parkinson Association of the Carolinas.
Parkinson’s symptoms appear when there is an abnormally low supply of dopamine, which is the chemical in the brain that controls muscle movement.
The lifestyle of a Parkinson’s patient can be improved through mental and physical activity.
Culbertson starts her day reading something uplifting, be it the Bible or a daily devotion.
“You realize it can really be a lot worse,” she said.
She does take medication that stabilizes her walking. Sometimes when its effects wear off, her movements are slower. And some days are better than others.
Culbertson told the group that Tuesday was a good day. She felt good and was able to walk from her car to the meeting room.
This month’s speaker was Arlene D’Alli, a social worker with the Duke University Movement Disorders Center in Durham.
D’Alli spoke to caregivers who aid those with the disease.
She said even just reminding that spouse or person that they are loved is a lot.
Some of those in the group said they’ve learned to not shut out their family and do the activities they did before the disease, even if it meant sitting down and watching others.
D’Alli encouraged them to read books and material about the disease.
“We can’t assume people know about Parkinson’s Disease,” she said.
Marie Jaffe, the new executive director of the Parkinson Association of the Carolinas, which covers North and South Carolina, was also on hand to determine the needs of the support groups and to connect them with other professionals and provide support services.
“Parkinson Association of the Carolinas is here to support the support groups,” Jaffe said.
Jaffe said she’s working with Program Coordinator Lisa Van Rossum to attend all of the support groups to speak with group leaders and attendees.
April was Parkinson’s Awareness Month.
For more information about the Parkinson Association of the Carolinas go to www.parkinsonassociation. org. For answers to questions about Parkinson’s Disease, contact the National Parkinson Foundation hotline at 1-800-4PD-INFO.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.