The St. Louis American Parkinson Disease Association Information and Referral Center is located in Chesterfield, MO and funds the APDA Center for Advanced Parkinson Disease Research at Washington University School of Medicine. The Greater St. Louis Chapter is one of the largest among the American Parkinson Disease Association chapters in the United States.
The American Parkinson Disease Association St. Louis Chapter’s mission is to enhance the quality of life for people with Parkinson disease, their families and care partners in our communities within Missouri and Southern Illinois and to provide funding for ongoing Parkinson disease research.
The American Parkinson Disease Association St. Louis Chapter’s vision is to expand significantly its patient services and education programs to better meet the growing and unmet needs while maintaining its commitment to fund Parkinson disease research.
What Does the APDA Do?
The primary function of our Center is to serve as a central location where people with PD, care partners, medical professionals, students and other interested individuals can call or write to receive the latest information, including FREE printed material, medical and support system referrals, quarterly newsletters, and patient service listings. The Center informs patients about Parkinson disease studies and research projects in which they might wish to participate.
Public awareness and educational programs play a vital role in the Center’s activities. The Center has published the well-received book entitled Coping With Parkinson’s Disease for the benefit of people with PD and caregivers alike and A Collection of Helpful Hints for People With Parkinson’s Disease. The St. Louis APDA has produced “FIT ‘N FUN,” a therapeutic PD home exercise videotape, and “Caring For A Nursing Home Resident With Parkinson’s Disease.” The Center coordinates all PD services in the Greater St. Louis area. It also serves as headquarters for the local APDA Chapter.
What is Parkinson disease?
Parkinson disease is a chronic neurological disorder due to the lack of the chemical dopamine in the brain. Dopamine controls movement and posture. Common symptoms of the disease are tremors, rigidity, postural instability and bradykinesia (slow movement). Other manifestations of PD may include stooped posture, speech and swallowing problems, a mask-like facial expression, shuffling gait, decreased arm swing when walking, difficulty with fine hand movements and micrographia (small handwriting). PD symptoms may appear on one or both sides of the body. Signs of the disease have a slow, gradual onset. The cause of PD is still unknown.
Over 1.5 million people in the United States suffer from PD. Most patients are over the age of 50, although younger ones are being seen daily. Diagnosis of the illness is based on a neurological examination which includes evaluation of symptoms and their severity. PD does not affect everyone in the same way. Some patients are more severely affected than others. Treatment involves individualizing the various PD medicines available to see which ones help the patient most. Supervised medication adjustments are often needed. In recent years, surgical procedures have been performed on selected patients. In addition to medication, daily exercise is very important for the patient’s well being. Education and support groups also play important roles in helping the patient and caregiver cope with this illness. At present there is no cure.
Neurologists at Washington University School of Medicine and other researchers thoughout the world are actively working to find a preventative or cure for PD. Each year brings new hope for a brighter future.
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