Bastyr University Researcher Will Lead Summer School Program for Parkinson’s Patients

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by Ana de Barros, PhD |

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Laurie Mischley, PhD, a researcher at the private, non-profit Bastyr University, is launching the first-ever summer school program for Parkinson’s disease patients.

This August, Mischley will facilitate two medical-educational retreats at Bastyr as part of the new “PD Summer School.”

Until June 15 those interested can apply to one of the five-day itineraries, including therapeutic strategies and tips designed to help individuals with Parkinson’s better navigate issues and concerns related to their disease.

The program is available in two sessions. One session will take place from Aug. 12-17 and another from Aug. 19-24. Both sessions will be held at the Kenmore Campus, in Washington state.

Fees for participating are $4,000 for patients and $500 for partners, excluding costs of accommodation for the week. Included in the registration fee are more than $2,000 worth of laboratory evaluations.

The entire cost of the program can be submitted to insurance companies for reimbursement, as they are equivalent to about 20 hours of patient care plus labs, depending on the insurer and insurance plan.

Topics covered during the sessions include strategies for disease modification, scientific causes behind Parkinson’s and laboratory evaluation of the disease, how to manage motor symptoms, environmental medicines, diet and exercise, among others. All sessions will be lectured by internationally-recognized top Parkinson’s experts.

The PD Summer School was designed using results from a 2014 study, which demonstrated that Alzheimer’s patients’ symptoms could be partially reversed using a comprehensive, personalized therapeutic program based on the underlying development of the disease. Mischley believes that a similar approach also can be applied to Parkinson’s.

“Using a similar approach for PD, people often report a reduction in medication and an improvement in symptoms. I don’t think neurodegenerative diseases are nearly as progressive as most people think they are. People just need to stop doing the things that are causing the degeneration,” she said in a press release.

“PD Summer School patients/students and their caregivers will go home with biologically plausible, real-world action items. The therapies we teach are evidence-based, supported by published, peer-reviewed literature,” Mischley added. “They’ll also have a lot of fun, enjoying delicious and nutritious foods, receiving massages and participating in meditation and exercise classes between lectures and appointments. Family members are invited to attend with their loved ones for a small fee so they can share the experience.”

Participants will be asked to complete personalized lab tests prior to attending the week-long program. Each attendee will then receive recommendations catered to their unique symptoms, context and priorities. These recommendations will be shared with their physicians back home for follow-up.

As well as facilitating the PD Summer School, Mischley is conducting the CAM Care in Parkinson’s Disease study — now recruiting (NCT02194816) — which aims to identify factors (including practices, beliefs, and therapies) associated with improved quality of life and fewer Parkinson’s symptoms.

Catered meals will be provided at no cost at Bastyr’s Dining Commons, with nutrition and cooking demonstrations in the Bastyr Nutrition Kitchen. Information about accommodation is available here.