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Parkinson’s Support Group Moves Into Your Living Room, Virtually

July 27, 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic caused most people to self-isolate in their homes, it became important to healthcare providers to reach their patients in new and creative ways.

Dr. Su Kanchana, a board-certified movement disorders neurologist who joined the Chase Family Movement Disorders Center in Vernon in late winter, had just started seeing patients when practices were closed due to the virus. Appointments became virtual and she was working from her home.

“I wanted to support for people with Parkinson’s disease and their care partners who were dealing with the stress of the pandemic,” said Dr. Kanchana who, in the first few weeks of the Covid-19 shutdown, began an online support group.

On the first and third Fridays of each month at 1 p.m., she hosts what she calls the Parkinson’s Living Room. People can join via their computer or phone from the privacy and convenience of their home.

Dr. Kanchana is not new to support groups, having begun one in Big Flats, N.Y., when there was none in a two-hour radius. The group grew large and people joined from quite a distance.

“Parkinson’s disease is not an individual condition; it involves family and friends,” she said. “Support groups provide a gathering that people can meet with people with like experiences. It is a safe and comfortable place, and should be fun and educational too.”

Topics discussed in the group have included physical therapy and exercise, home care and music therapy. There is always time to ask Dr. Kanchana questions on any topic. The Parkinson’s Living Room has a casual, friendly feel with 20 or so people joining each meeting.

“It is also important for family and friends to learn about Parkinson’s. Knowledge is a tool to help handle living with this lifelong condition,” Dr. Kanchana said.

For more information about the support, please contact Susan Lather at susan.lather@hhchealth.org or 860.734.6393.

For information on the Chase Family Movement Disorders Center, click here.

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