July 9 Free Program to Address Racial Disparities in Parkinson’s

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by Mary Chapman |

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A July 9 event aimed at African Americans will underscore the importance of an early Parkinson’s disease diagnosis and specialized healthcare, while addressing institutional biases and myths that can impede such detection and treatment.

The free program, called “Parkinson’s Disease and the African  American Community,” will be held in Atlanta at the Morehouse School of Medicine, and live-streamed to an online audience.

It is hosted by the Parkinson’s Foundation, and is open to patients, care partners, healthcare professionals, and anyone interested in learning more about Parkinson’s and its impact on Black communities in the U.S.

Beginning at 10 a.m., the 2.5-hour event includes breakfast for those attending in-person; it also may be watched live via Zoom. Anyone planning to attend is required to register online.

“The Parkinson’s Foundation has a long-standing commitment to remove barriers to care, make research more inclusive, and ensure that information and resources are accessible,” Annie Long, the foundation’s associate director of community programs, said in a press release.

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“We are intentionally building on this commitment so that all people with Parkinson’s disease and their families have what they need to manage this disease and live the best quality of life,” Long said.

Research has indicated that Black people may be less likely than those in white communities to develop Parkinson’s. However, Black patients are more likely to face a later diagnosis with the progressive neurodegenerative disorder — and to experience worse outcomes.

The event’s keynote speaker will be Chantale Branson, MD, of the Morehouse School of Medicine. The featured panelists are Branson and several medical professionals from the Emory Brain Health Center including Stewart A. Factor, Lenora Ann Higginbotham, MD, and nurse Tammyjo Best. Also participating will be Valeria Gary of Wellstar Kennestone Outpatient Neuro Rehabilitation; Nicole Fuller, a physical therapist from Beyond Brain; and Parkinson’s patient Tyaisha Dillon.

“Join us as we explore some of the racial disparities in Parkinson’s disease,” the event announcement states. “Together we will identify and address myths and institutional bias that may impact early diagnosis, treatment, and care in the African American community. We will also explore how healthcare professionals, people living with Parkinson’s disease and their loved ones can overcome racial disparities in healthcare.”

In-person attendees are required to wear masks on campus and to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccinations before arriving at the event. Also, in-person participants are asked to submit a negative test result for the coronavirus within three days of the program. All documentation should be sent to Marla Thompson at [email protected].

For more information, contact Long by sending an email to [email protected] or by calling 770-450-0792.

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