Progressive ‘PD Summer School’ Gearing Up at Bastyr University

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by Mary Chapman |

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A top progressive researcher at Bastyr University in Washington will lead a unique event — a five-day medical-educational retreat called PD Summer School — aimed at improving the lives of people with Parkinson’s disease.

Touted as the world’s only event of its kind for those living with Parkinson’s, the August 18-23 “school” will be led by Laurie Mischley, ND, MPH, PhD, associate clinical investigator at the university’s Research Institute. Mischley, author of “Natural Therapies for Parkinson’s Disease,” is conducting the ongoing Complementary & Alternative Medicine (CAM) Care in Parkinson’s Disease study at the university. She also developed an outcome measure to assess PD severity.

The PD Summer School, held in collaboration with Bastyr, will include 20 hours of classroom instruction, and individual and group activities, such as meditation, cooking demonstrations, chair massages, and yoga. There will be a field trip to a cannabis dispensary. Participants also will receive “recommendations catered to their unique symptoms, situation and priorities,” based on the results from required lab tests completed prior to the start of classes. Go here for the complete agenda.

Strategies presented will be data driven and supported by peer-reviewed literature. Attendees also can expect information on clinical trial participation, real-world solutions, and patient-centered recommendations.

“The therapies we teach are evidence based, supported by published, peer-reviewed literature,” Mischley said a press release. “They’ll also have a lot of fun, enjoying delicious and nutritious foods, receiving massages and participating in meditation and exercise classes in between lectures and appointments.”

Customized recommendations will be given to all participants based on their individual symptoms, priorities, and lifestyles. Following the program, these suggestions, complete with strategy details and explanations, will be sent to each patient’s physicians.

Participants will get up-to-date information on therapies, environmental toxins, nutrition and diet, and exercise from Parkinson’s experts, including movement disorder specialists, naturopathic physicians, and physical therapists.

Instructors will include John Duda, MD, director of the Parkinson’s Disease Research, Education and Clinical Center; Samantha Evans, naturopathic doctor with a practice in Seattle; physical therapist and PD specialist Nate Coomer; Matthew Brodsky, MD, Oregon Health & Science University; Kimball Magoni, PhD, psychologist; naturopathic doctor Russell B. Mars; naturopathic physician Jade Stefano, a cannabis farmer and processor; and naturopathic doctor Michelle Sexton.

Mischley believes that, much like Alzheimer’s patients in a 2014 study, people with Parkinson’s can benefit from a comprehensive, personalized therapeutic program.

“I don’t think neurodegenerative diseases are nearly as progressive as most people think they are,” she said. “People just need to stop doing the things that are causing the degeneration.”

The last day to register for the program is June 24. For more information, go here. The $4,500 per-patient fee, which does not include lodging, may be partially reimbursed through insurance. Partners or caregivers may attend at a cost of $1,000 per person, not including lodging.

Based in Kenmore, Wash., Bastyr University is a nonprofit private school offering undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees, with a multidisciplinary curriculum in science-based natural medicine.