PDWELL Origin Story

PDWELL came from a desire to do more to meet the needs of the Parkinson’s community in the Omaha metro area.  As a PT and rehabilitation manager at a skilled nursing facility I had the opportunity to develop a Parkinson’s program over the last 6 years and identified a need for a place for persons with Parkinson’s Disease (PwPD) to go for Parkinson’s specific therapy, exercise classes and education/resources.  While there was a substantial amount of Parkinson’s classes in town, the services are fragmented with most people attending classes at multiple different locations in the area in order to meet their needs and/or interests.  The same issue existed for support groups.  Many PwPD attend multiple groups in order to obtain all of the education and support they and/or their care partners are looking for.  In addition, many people did not know where to go to obtain Parkinson’s specific therapy services.  They would get a MD order for therapy but were frustrated by the services they received at a typical outpatient clinic.  From all of these observations, the concept of PDWELL as born.

The 3 pillars of PDWELL will be Exercise (Skilled therapy and community exercise classes), Education (pt, caregiver, and professional) and Community (fostering a sense of community among the members).  We are establishing PDWELL initially focusing on the pillars of education and community.

EDUCATION:  PDWELL is offering an educational workshop based on the book Every Victory Counts from the Davis Phinney Foundation. This is a nine-week workshop that focuses on living well with Parkinson’s.  It’s being offered two times a week and is open to anyone with Parkinson’s, their caregivers or any other person that provides care to Persons with PD.  We are getting the word out about PDWELL and the workshop through support groups, visiting PD specific exercise classes in Omaha, as well as informing health care providers to the Parkinson’s community.  Participants will be going through the interactive lessons on topic such as Parkinson’s symptoms, exercise and nutrition, assembling a wellness team, and navigating your Parkinson’s with your care partner. 

Other educational workshops will be developed that will be both on going like Every Victory Counts and a Parkinson’s “boot camp” for the newly diagnosed.  We are planning other special events such as physician presentations and special topics of interest such as Nutrition and PD, Current Research in PD, etc.  

Another component of education that PDWELL will be providing is professional level education. Currently, we have two CEU courses that have been developed and will be held in October and November in Omaha, NE: Gait impairments and Parkinson’s Disease for PT’s and PTA’s and Dual Tasking and Parkinson’s disease for PT’s, OT‘s, and SLP’s.   In November, Practical Approaches to the Assessment and Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease will be offered in San Antonio, Texas for PT/PTA/OT and COTA’s.

COMMUNITY:  PDWELL is developing community in multiple ways.  First of all, our educational offerings will bring a sense of community through learning and sharing experiences.  The Omaha area Parkinson’s community will be invited to “Give a Gift to Themselves” in December as we gather together to prepare Aware in Care kits from the Parkinson’s Foundation to ensure all are prepared for a hospitalization in 2020.  We are currently planning social outings and non-educational gatherings such as a ping-pong tournament as well as intergenerational offerings based around exercise and healthy living such as cooking foods that are “brain rich” for Parkinson’s.  We are reaching out into the community to bring resources in that will enrich their lives while they share the knowledge and passion they have for their hobbies/recreational activities. 

PDWELL is sponsoring local Parkinson’s events.  On September 29th we sponsored Walk the Park for Parkinson’s which is a 5K and fun run/walk for Parkinson’s Nebraska.  We are sponsoring Nebraska Medicines 2019 Patient and caregiver symposium on October 14th.

PDWELL is also participating nationally with Parkinson’s Foundation through hosting viewing parties for their 2019-2020 Expert Briefing series on topics such as “Coping with Dementia for Care Partners” as well as “Optimal Exercise Strategies for Stability, Stamina, and Strength”.   I am an Aware in Care Kit Ambassador and will be educating the Parkinson’s community in Nebraska on the benefit of utilizing an Aware in Care Kit for every inpatient stay.  We are on the planning committee both for Moving Day Omaha – a walk for Parkinson’s through the Parkinson’s Foundation and the 2020 Victory Summit from the Davis Phinney Foundation.

I could not be more excited to work for Ensign on the development of PDWELL.  I am so blessed to have the opportunity to serve the Parkinson’s community here in the Omaha metro and beyond!