Archive for February, 2014

Message from the Editor

Welcome to the first issue of eParkinsonPost for 2014. Throughout the year, we will update you on our progress in key areas including our work in federal advocacy, updates from our National Research Program and highlights from funded projects, as well as returning events such as Parkinson SuperWalk in September and Parkinson’s Awareness Month in April.

Winners of our 2014 National Volunteer Awards will be announced earlier this year, coinciding with National Volunteer Week which runs April 6th to 12th. Nominations are open until March 31 so there’s still time to nominate an exceptional volunteer and recognize his/her contribution to the Parkinson’s community.

We check in with Dr. Barbara Connolly, associate professor at McMaster University’s Department of Medicine and past recipient of the Nora Fisher Clinical Movement Disorders Fellowship, to see how her medical practice has progressed as a result of support from our National Research Program.

Also in this issue, we share updates on Parkinson Society Canada’s new initiatives to support family doctors and other health professionals with resources to apply the Canadian Guidelines on Parkinson’s Disease in daily practice.  In addition to a series of webinars for physicians launched in February led by Canadian Parkinson’s experts, starting in April, doctors will have free access to a new online continuing education module.

Marina Joseph

Marina Joseph

And finally, the Donald Calne Lectureship is scheduled for May 26th. Mark your calendars and watch for details on how you can join us in Montreal. We’ll be announcing the 2014 recipient in March.

Our work is strengthened by your input. I invite you to comment on the individual stories in this blog as well as provide feedback and ideas for future articles.  Keep in touch and enjoy a wonderful year.

PSC Funded Student Becomes Next Generation of Parkinson’s Specialists

Dr. Barbara Connolly, Assistant Professor, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario.

Dr. Barbara Connolly, Assistant Professor, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario.

Parkinson Society Canada (PSC) funds doctors and clinicians early in their careers, nurturing the Parkinson’s specialists of tomorrow. One such specialist, Dr. Barbara Connolly, received the Nora Fischer Clinical Movement Disorders Fellowship in 2011.

Trained in Toronto under Dr. Anthony Lang, Dr. Connolly now provides her world-class skills and expertise to patients in the Hamilton, Ontario area, where Parkinson’s specialists were in short supply.

“Before I moved to Hamilton, there was only one movement disorder specialist in the entire area, so I’ve taken my knowledge to an underserviced community. I take referrals from local doctors to manage patients with Parkinson’s and other movement disorders so they get more specific care,” said Dr. Connolly, now an Assistant Professor at McMaster University, Department of Medicine.

Interested in medicine from a young age, Dr. Connolly feels her clinical fellowship from PSC played a significant role in getting her to where she is today. In the coming years, Dr. Connolly looks forward to taking the educational process full circle, teaching young students the movement disorder expertise she learned from Dr. Lang.

“I think I have something more to offer my patients thanks to my training. When I was applying to the fellowship program at Toronto Western Hospital – University Health Network, funding availability was an issue, in part due to the economic downturn. The fellowship grant from PSC gave me the funds I needed to pursue my goals,” added Dr. Connolly.

McMaster University is reaping the benefits from Dr. Connolly’s education as a resident neurologist. Dr. Connolly was initially attracted to the opportunity in Hamilton due to the infancy of the residency program.

“I was excited by how new the program was. I knew I could make the residency program into what I wanted it to be. The city also needs more movement disorder specialists so it seemed like a perfect fit for establishing my practice. There’s a lot of opportunity in Hamilton right now,” Dr. Connolly added.

Working out of Hamilton General Hospital, Dr. Connolly has a long-term goal of adding a variety of related and allied health professionals to her team to better serve people with Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative and movement disorders. About 70% of her current patients have Parkinson’s disease.

Dr. Connolly, who keeps her skills current by reading movement disorder journals and attending relevant conferences, is hopeful that developments in neuroprotective medication and cutting-edge early diagnosis methods can be used in tandem to provide a better quality of life, and delay symptom advancement later in life, for people with Parkinson’s.

“If we can identify Parkinson’s early and then medicate to stop its progression, that would be an important step forward for Parkinson’s research and treatments,” Dr. Connolly said.

Even though her fellowship grant from PSC was clinical in nature, Dr. Connolly was still able to participate in many research programs during her time under Dr. Lang in Toronto. Now that Dr. Connolly is settling into her new role in Hamilton and McMaster University, she fully expects to get more involved in research in the future.

“New research excites my patients. They are keen to participate and have an opportunity to make a difference,” said Dr. Connolly.

She has nothing but words of encouragement for her students of today and tomorrow.

“I would encourage anyone interested in Parkinson’s research and related specialties to do it. Parkinson’s is a common illness and with an aging population we’ll need more and more specialists serving those patients. Fellowships are the best way to learn the field,” said Dr. Connolly.

With doctors like Dr. Connolly taking leadership roles in Parkinson’s treatment, research and education, the patients of our aging population are in good hands.

Parkinson Society Canada is the only organization that specifically funds Parkinson’s research in Canada. Together with regional partners, our National Research Program invests in Canadian research from the ground up. Many projects are geared to the discovery stage, which lead to other funding opportunities and new treatments relevant to Parkinson’s disease.

For more information about the National Research Program, contact Julie Wysocki, Director, National Research Program at or 1-800-565-3000 ext. 3382.

Online Learning Module Helps Doctors Diagnose and Treat Parkinson’s

03_Feb2014_OnlineModulesSince the release of the Canadian Guidelines on Parkinson’s Disease in 2012, more than 75,000 health professionals in Canada have been introduced to this resource to better diagnose and treat their Parkinson’s patients. Now, there are even more tools created specifically for doctors to improve the effectiveness of the guidelines. Parkinson Society Canada has developed online learning modules that will lead doctors through a virtual patient assessment as a companion resource to the complete guidelines, executive summary and quick reference tools.

Content from the online learning module was presented during a professional development workshop at the Family Medicine Forum (FMF) in November 2013. The Family Medicine Forum is Canada’s largest and most comprehensive annual conference that highlights the important role family physicians play in maintaining the health and well-being of Canadians of all ages.

Doctors attending the forum participated in an interactive session which directly mirrored the virtual patient scenario that will be used online. Feedback from these family doctors was incorporated into the final release of the online learning module, which comes out in April 2014.

This online learning module, delivered in English and French, focuses on commonly known motor symptoms of Parkinson’s, as well as managing the non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s, now recognized as a major component of the disease and are the symptoms that patients report most adversely affect their quality of life.

The modules will be accessible through Parkinson Society Canada’s website for health professionals at shortly. Although these courses are geared towards health care professionals, anyone with an interest can use the resource to become more informed.

The first Canadian Guidelines on Parkinson’s Disease Online Learning Module was developed by Parkinson Society Canada with input from the Medical Advisory Committee which includes neurologists, movement disorder specialists and family doctors.  Parkinson Society Canada plans to expand its online library again in 2015.

Another education opportunity for family physicians in Canada is a series of webinars led by Canadian Parkinson’s experts. This four-part webinar series is made possible through an unrestricted education grant provided by UCB Canada. Advanced registration online is required. For more information on the Canadian Guidelines on Parkinson’s Disease and other online resources for health professionals, visit or contact Grace Ferrari, Manager, Education & National Programs at

Anticipation building as the National Population Health Study of Neurological Conditions nears completion

04_Feb2014_NPHSNCFour years in the making, the National Population Health Study of Neurological Conditions (NPHSNC), is nearing completion and expected to be tabled to the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health, in the spring.

Parkinson’s was included in 16 of the 17 research projects of this study, co-managed by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and Neurological Health Charities Canada (NHCC). Joyce Gordon, President & CEO of Parkinson Society Canada, currently serves as Chair of NHCC.

The NPHSNC will provide the Parkinson’s community with crucial information to shape future policy decision-making. Research teams across Canada have been working to build a better understanding of:

–         the incidence and prevalence of brain conditions in Canada;

–         its impact on the lives of individuals and families;

–         risk factors for onset and progression;

–         co-existing conditions; and

–         the ability of health, social and community services to support people living with brain conditions

In December 2013, members of the Parkinson’s community had the opportunity to participate in a stakeholder consultation to review the drafted NPHSNC report.  The consultation helped ensure the final report reflects the perceptions, needs and experiences of those affected by neurological conditions, including Parkinson’s.

We will continue to monitor the progress of the NPHSNC and look forward to sharing the results of this landmark study with our community in the near future.

Getting the Most Out of the Website

05_Feb2014_ParkinsonDotCaParkinson Society Canada (PSC) provides a variety of online resources to support individuals, families and health professionals affected by Parkinson’s. Our online resources may be able to provide answers to the questions you have about this complex neurodegenerative disease.

For People with Parkinson’s:
An important first step is learning the basics of Parkinson’s disease, such as motor and non-motor symptoms, rate of progression, and personalized care and treatment plans.  All of this information can be found on our “What is Parkinson’s” page.

Other helpful resources for people with Parkinson’s include:

If English or French is not your preferred language, Parkinson Society Canada provides the most common education resources in five other languages: German, Italian, Spanish, Chinese and Punjabi.

For Caregivers:
Caregivers play a vital role in supporting individuals with Parkinson’s.  However, managing the responsibilities and demands of a caregiver can be difficult.  The information provided on our website can help support caregivers in their role.

Online resources for Parkinson’s care partners include:

For Health Care Professionals

Physicians and allied health professionals are key members of the Parkinson’s care team. The Canadian Guidelines on Parkinson’s Disease, available at, provides family doctors and other health professionals with evidence based recommendations to help diagnose and properly treat their Parkinson’s patients.

Other useful resources for health care professionals include:

Shared Experiences

We often hear from people with Parkinson’s that they learn the most from others who share their experience with the disease. PSC provides inspirational stories from Canada’s Parkinson’s community, available on our website at Stories from the Front.

If you have a story you’d like to share with us and others affected by Parkinson’s, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us at with your story idea and we’ll get in touch.

Donald Calne Lecture – Save the date for May 26, 2014


Joyce Gordon, PSC CEO, left,
with Virginia M.-Y. Lee,
Donald Calne 2013 Lecturer

Each year, Parkinson Society Canada (PSC) recognizes the achievements of a distinguished Parkinson’s neuroscientist of international reputation with the Donald Calne Lectureship.  The honoree delivers a speech on the current state of Parkinson’s research, and often highlights their area of expertise.

Established in 2002, the award honours Dr. Donald Calne for his contributions to the Canadian Parkinson’s community as Professor of Neuroscience at the University of British Columbia and for his work as chair and long-time member of PSC’s Scientific Advisory Board. Selection and announcement of the 2014 recipient will take place in March.

Members of the international Parkinson’s community, including scientists, medical professionals, people with Parkinson’s and their families are invited to attend. Save the date and check back online in March for an invitation to join us on May 26 for the 2014 lecture in Montreal, Quebec. 

For more information, please contact Julie Wysocki, Director, National Research Program, by email at

Charitable registration number 10809 1786 RR0001
All material related to Parkinson's disease contained in Parkinson Post is solely for the information of the reader. It should not be used for treatment purposes. Specific articles reflect the opinion of the writer and are not necessarily the opinion of PSC.

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